At Your Convenience: A Lavatorial Walking Tour
A Failed Toilet Project
At the end of the alley cross the street again and keep walking towards The Lady Magazine which should be looming up in front of you.
This is the site of another early public toilet. In 1852, the year after the Great Exhibition a group of Entrepreneurs including Samuel Morton Peto, who built Nelson’s Column, and Henry Cole who was better known for designing the first commercial Christmas Card got together to finance a ladies toilet on the corner of Bedford Street. The corresponding Gents was about a mile away on Fleet Street. They distributed 10,000 handbills and placed advertisements in the Times.
During the first month they had only 24 visitors to the ladies. That continued to drop until finally 8 months later the project was declared a failure and the toilets closed down. On-street conveniences, it seemed, were not, after all, a viable option.