During my childhood there were always public toilets available. It was part of the civilisation we inherited from Victorian times. In the two-mile walk or cycle ride from home to the centre of Lincoln, I still vividly recall the public toilets at the South Common, in the Park, at Gowt’s Bridge, in the station, the market, and by the High Bridge in town. There was always a toilet handy in case of need. Of course, there were few cafes with private facilities in those days, so public provision was essential. But it has to be saiid that, by the 1950s, the loos were often rather smelly places.
Since then it has been downhill all the way. Public provision of toilets has not been a priority, and free public loos have gradually disappeared, some replaced by limited automated paying facilities.The rise of cafes and bars mean that there are many more private facilities available to those who can pay for a drink.
How refreshing then to find these old loos still open at Altrincham Market (Altrincham was given a Royal Charter for a market by Edward 1 in 1290.) Separate Gents and Ladies facilities are down steps each side of the entryway – clean, hot water in the taps, working hand driers, all spotlessly maintained. Better than the old days!
Altrincham Market House itself is a rather fine regeneration project, repurposing the old covered market as a community facility with small retail outlets, with the still-thriving open air market alongside. As the publicity blurb says:
One beautiful listed building; part restaurant, part market, part town square. Eat, meet, drink, shop, watch, talk, listen, laugh. Come in, be yourself and if you like it bring your friends!
All very civilised!