Tam's Tall Tales

- Attending to the Conveniences "Doon the Watter"

Victorian Toilets Rothesay Notice
Graphic © Tim Niblett via Wikimedia Commons

Rothesay's Victorian Visitor Attraction
A familiar face at one of the Island of Bute's best-known - and most unusual - visitor attractions has retired from his post.

Dan Sawers retired this week after 19 years as an attendant at the Victorian Public Toilets in Rothesay in the Firth of Clyde - but before he left, he shared the story of the ornate conveniences for one last time, and recalled just a few of the famous faces to whom he's given a guided tour of the facilities since taking up the post in 1994.

The toilets in question are a total joy and well worth the "entrance fee" of 30 pence. Every TV programme featuring Rothesay seems to feature a short piece on these loos.

The conveniences, which are located a few steps from the embarkation gangway on Rothesay Pier, Isle of Bute, are regarded as the most impressive surviving late Victorian public convenience in Scotland, if not Britain.

Commissioned by Rothesay Harbour Trust in 1899 during Rothesay's hey-day as a holiday resort, the gents lavatory, a most unusual survivor of the Victorian era, was always intended to impress.

The interior is magnificent with walls entirely clad in decorative ceramic tiles, ornately patterned in rows. The floors are designed with ceramic mosaic, with the crest of the Royal Burgh of Rothesay at the entrance.

Fourteen urinals stand like sentinels along two walls, another six surround a central stand - each a white enamel alcove topped with the legend "Twyfords Ltd. Cliffe Vale Potteries, Hanley" and crowned with imitation dark green St Anne marble.

Three glass sided cisterns feed water to the urinals through shining copper pipes. Nine WC cubicles with plain panelled doors complete layout. Apart from the cisterns in the cubicles all the original fitments remain as supplied in 1899 by Twyfords Ltd. Glasgow for 530.

All best wishes to Dan the Conveniences Man on his retirement!

Please give me whatever feedback comes to mind via tamfromrampant@gmail.com.

Tam O'Ranter
May 2015

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