Be privy to some se­crets about the his­toric toi­let at no 49

Amer­sham Mu­seum

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - PEOPLE AND PLACES -

WHEN No 49 High Street be­came the home of Amer­sham Mu­seum, the brick and tiled privy at the end of the gar­den was in a very poor state.

The seat was worm-rid­den and the rest of the space was dirty and full of rub­bish. The privy was cleared out and the rot­ten wood was burned and for the next few years it was used as a gar­den shed. After many years of ne­glect a re­sus­ci­ta­tion plan was de­vised with the help of a legacy.

It had been as­sumed that the privy emp­tied into the River Mis­bourne which flows im­me­di­ately be­hind the back wall but this wall shows no sign of any vent and, any­way, the river bed is some­times dry for months at a time so it would be use­less as a sewage dis­posal sys­tem.

There must have been a ‘night soil man’ who crossed the river and emp­tied the bucket at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals.

Once the privy build­ing was cleared and an old photo was found, suit­able old tim­ber planks and red floor tiles were found in a recla­ma­tion cen­tre. A car­pen­ter re­built the seat­ing and a bucket was in­stalled un­der­neath plus another bucket with ash and a shovel for cov­er­ing the waste.

For the for­mal open­ing, well-known his­to­rian, Lady Lucinda Lambton, cut the rib­bon to re­veal the new var­nished seat, a rug, the scour­ing pow­der and scrub­bing brush and the es­sen­tial fly pa­per hang­ing from the roof.

AN­THONY DEL TUFO, MU­SEUM VOL­UN­TEER

49 High Street Old Amer­sham Bucks HP7 0DP 01494 723700 www.amer­sham­mu­seum.org

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