Minor British Institutions: The British Toilet Association

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The Independent Online

It is all too easy to deride the BTA – until you find yourself caught short, in which case you might want to sign up to their mission statement: "More and better toilets". It reminds us that our public lavvys were once the envy of the world, a national expression of our excellence in sewerage and plumbing.

Accessed by a proper, pre-decimal penny (hence the expression), with San Izal the loo roll of choice, these subterranean Victorian delights were followed by cottage-like blocks often found in parks, giving us another, unintended sub-culture. Vandalism and lack of funding contributed to the decline of the convenience.

Some councils put rickety French-style open-air facilities out on a Saturday night, which do nothing for privacy or the streetscape. Automated superloos never really fulfilled their promise. So we are left with popping into McDonalds, which is unfair on them. As the BTA might say: let's stop another part of our heritage going down the pan.