Peatland Standard: Public Toilets for Women Received Category II Status | UK News

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The Victorian and Edwardian public toilets that helped free women from the “urinary leash” were given Category II status.

The Bank Hill Ladies’ Public Convenience of 1899 in Berwick upon Tweed, Northumberland, and the 1904 Toilet on Seaburn Waterfront in Sunderland are rare early examples of a female friendly toilet.

The first public toilets in the second half of the 19th century were opened in workplaces, train stations, parks, shops, pubs and restaurants, but the vast majority were strictly reserved for men.

Victorian ladies were considered too modest to answer the call of nature when they were not at home.

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The toilets on Seaburn seafront in Sunderland date from 1904

It was also suggested that it was a cynical ploy to keep women close to their homes, as the lack of facilities prevented them from traveling far – a restriction known as a ‘urinary leash’.

The first ladies’ toilets were opened in London’s West End in the 1880s, meaning women could shop for longer.

But amenities for women remained scarce until after World War I, when women gained more social freedom.

The Berwick toilet was designed to resemble a rustic cabin, cleverly obscuring its purpose of protecting sensitive Victorians from the reality of public urination.

It remained in service until the 1950s and has since been used as a communal warehouse and even as an ice cream parlor.

Seaburn’s underground toilets were intended for both men and women.

Image:
Seaburn waterfront underground toilets are for men and women

They were closed in the 1960s but were recently restored and reopened in 2018.

Debbie Mays, head of the list at Historic England, said: “Many people often think of buildings classified only as churches, castles and large stately homes, but buildings like toilets are also an important part of the wealthy. history of our country.

“There are captured from the myriad of types included on the list.

“The Berwick and Seaburn toilets reflect the changing social status of women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“The appearance of toilets like these represented the gradual opening up of a world of new leisure and work opportunities previously inaccessible to women. “

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