A Late Convenience

In Current Archaeology is a review of The English Railway Station which details the evolution from modified Georgian houses to the grand cathedrals we still use and love. But, since the original use of the railways was for freight rather than passengers, facilities we now take for granted were long coming :

“Left luggage offices were introduced from 1840, and lost property offices were installed at principal termini soon afterwards, but lavatories were a relatively late innovation. England’s first paying public conveniences were designed by the sanitation entrepreneur George Jennings for the Retiring Rooms of the Crystal Palace at the Great Exhibition of 1851. He made a fortune by charging a penny for their use, and went on to specilise in designing underground public conveniences with ornate metal railings, lamp-lit arches and slate or tile-lined interiors (many of which are now closed and neglected and ned their own heritage campaign). …male-dominated railway companies have never adequately catered for female demand, citing as an example the ‘interminable queues to access the main ladies’ lavatory at the gleaming new St Pancras International Eurostar terminus when it first opened in 2013.’

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One thought on “A Late Convenience

  1. This isn’t true! I am a specialist in railway women and author of the only book detailing their history. Hundreds of women were employed as ladies’ room attendants all over the UK in the c19th to look after the ladies lavatories and waiting rooms.

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