The following piece is an extract from the 1968 Revised edition of “The Good Loo Guide” by Jonathan Routh. We thank member Robin Alder for bringing this to our attention.
There is an interesting point here, perhaps illustrating a none-too-flattering facet of the English female toileteer’s character. Following an attempt to make all the Ladies loos free, there were so many complaints from customers who felt they could afford to pay to use them and who objected to being seen going into a cubicle marked “Free”, that the penny charge for the use of a number of them had, by popular request, to be reinstated.
I certainly get the impression that the people who planned the location of the loos here don’t really like ladies. For instance, as you enter the Park from Albert Bridge Road the first thing you see is a sign saying “Men, Women’s Conveniences 250 yards”. “Men” refers to a small pillbox nearby, and women must walk that 250 yards while their menfolk take it easy in this pillbox.
And apart from the main loos marked on the map there are lots of these little roofless pillboxes scattered through the shrubs in the park, all declaring themselves to be “Men Only”, and leaving women to walk countless hundreds of yards elsewhere. Indeed, at the loo marked B4 on the map, in the days when the miniature
railway was still operating, all men had to do to get into the loo, was queue up at the level crossing gate and wait for the attendant to open it for them when the train had passed. Women, on the other hand, to get to their loo – in the same building – were not allowed to avail themselves of this unique treatment; they had to travel some hundreds of yards over one of those footbridges, which someone once invented in a contest to discover the longest distance between two points.
I don’t understand why the women of Battersea stand for treatment like this. On the other hand, as some of them are perverse enough to insist on paying for the indignity, maybe I shouldn’t even try to understand.
The Park, incidentally, is another place where the rule is that “a convenience shall not be closed punctually if any person requires to use it”, and where also “any person may be lent a key to use the convenience before 9am”. The information may be useful to some, like people who’ve got nowhere else to go between 2am and 4am and remember to make the necessary arrangements beforehand.