Ladies’ lavatories win listed status
FROM the vote to equal pay, feminists have faced many battles. Now one of their more unusual victories is to receive official recognition.
The 1899 Bank Hill toilets in Berwick upon Tweed, Northumberland, and the 1904 lavatories on the Seaburn seafront in Sunderland have won Grade II-listed status as early examples of ladies’ loos.
The first public toilets opened in the second half of the 19th century but were strictly for men only. Victorian ladies were thought too modest to answer the call of nature away from home.
Some saw the lack of provision as a cynical ploy to prevent women from straying too far from their houses – a restriction known as the ‘urinary leash’.
Debbie Mays, of Historic England, said the toilets represent the ‘opening up of a world of new leisure and work opportunities previously unavailable to women.’