Finest gents in the land draws the crowds

THERE CAN be few public lavatories that could be classed as a tourist attraction. Yet a Victorian water closet in the island resort of Rothesay, near Glasgow, has become such a popular draw among holidaymakers that it recently prompted its own brochure.

Regarded as the finest surviving public convenience in Britain, the Victorian gents on Rothesay Pier, on the Isle of Bute, were lauded by the architectural commentator Lucinda Lambton as "jewels in the sanitarian's crown".

Commissioned in 1899, the building and its ornate interior has been restored at a cost of pounds 300,000 and a modern ladies added (the Victorian burghers had made no provision for the needs of women).

Fourteen majestic urinal stalls line two walls and six surround a central stand. Enamel alcoves are crowned with imitation dark green St Anne's marble topped with the legend of their renowned manufacturers, Twyfords Ltd, Cliffe Vale Potteries, Hanley.

Three glass-sided cisterns are held together by marble and glowing copper and the walls and floor are decorated with ceramic tiles. This is an almost hallowed convenience.

The toilet block is almost the first building trippers encounter on coming ashore at Rothesay. It is built of glazed brick, and appears far from prepossessing on the outside. It cannot have figured highly in one over-excited description of the bay's architecture as like a "beckoning wedding-cake".

The interior was designed to impress, and to last. The urinals and original lavatories were manufactured from a special pottery recipe called "fireclay", an extremely robust material that Thomas Twyford had perfected only recently. Apart from the cisterns, all the Victorian fitments are intact, supplied at an original cost of pounds 530.

Twyford gave his fireclay the trade name "Adamant", a legend gazed on with a sense of growing relief by succeeding generations and in places so far flung they are quite unaware of Rothesay's other claims to fame, its palm-fringed bay (true), and incomparable bogs.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in