Hart-Davis celebrates and investigates the public loo
Everyone needs to spend a penny at some time in their
The public loo has become a convenient way of seeking relief for
anyone who has ever been caught short.
It also has a long and proud history,
but is the status of the public convenience under threat?
investigates the demise of public toilets and asks, "Are you prepared to
pay to pee?"
The humble lavatory
writer and broadcaster Adam Hart-Davis has been interested in research about lavatories
for about 10 years since he made a film for television about the Victorian plumber
"For instance," he says, "Did you know there
was outrage in 1851 when engineer George Jennings charged people to use the cubicles
in the Crystal Palace at the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park?
Clara Greed - world authority on public toilets|
827,000 people did choose to 'spend a penny' and thats probably where the
expression comes from."
For Inside Out West, he teamed up with Bristol
Professor Clara Greed from the University of the West of England.
a town planner and self-confessed toilet evangelist who is recognised as a world
authority on the subject of public conveniences.
They found concern about
closure of rundown and vandalised toilets in local communities - even though the
money saved was in some cases used to improve toilets in other areas, in particular
adding facilities for disabled people and nappy changing.
Professor Greed says:
is judged by its toilets, it's one of the first images tourists and visitors get
and we should generally be ashamed in this country."
Greed wants local
authorities to be obliged by law to provide good toilets and for there to be ring-fenced
British Toilet Association inspects standards in public loos|
says that she became deeply involved in the issue when it was a topic which came
up time and time again as she spoke to the public, particularly women and elderly
people and parents with young children, in the course of her urban planning research.
"Some people are limited to how far they can travel by what we have
termed the 'bladder's leash'," she says.
Adam Hart-Davis found sparkling
new loos at 20 pence a go at the newly-revamped Bristol bus station but not everybody
thought there should be a charge.
Would you be prepared to pay for better toilets in your
Bristol Women's Forum's survey results showed more than 60 per cent
would be prepared to pay up to 20 pence for clean toilets, preferably with an
Find out more about the British
Toilet Association campaign