So, I admit it: I’m quite a ‘niche’ googler. We all have the odd little ‘foible’. Some might consider their eccentricities, at best, unusual. This month, I’ve been researching loos again (yes, I’ve done it before with The Heritage Value of Lavatories* ) But, this time, it’s even more edgy … I’ve gone outside.
If you’ve ever walked or driven past, or, indeed, gone into, the Cameo nightclub in Ashford (it’s adjacent to Ashford International station ), you might have looked heavenwards and seen this precarious-looking construct.
The building is officially known as ‘The Warehouse’ (those strange double windows above the entrance would once have been a storage doorway for tipping out sacks onto a waiting cart or truck, perhaps to be then loaded onto a nearby train) and is said have been built in 1900. I suspect it’s older than that. Why? Because it’s next door to a hub of pioneering Victorian railway engineering . Indoor plumbing was something of a luxury. But, gradually, as part of the stampede towards social progress that came to mark the Victorian period, it was the later Victorians and Edwardians who began to pine for sophisticated extravagance; namely, an indoor loo!
But, what an experience! You would have had to have had a lot of faith – in God, or the architect (not always easily distinguishable!) – to trust sitting down in what looks like a simple wooden hut, several storeys above the ground.
There are other examples in Kent of this sort of structure. Here is a Victorian loo, strapped onto the outside of a Georgian pub in the Medway.
And there are also many tacked onto Georgian buildings in London, notably in Islington.
Look at an historic building and you will learn something about humanity at the time it was built. They are a form of public art. Frankly, an indoor loo, on a floor near you, is a great human kindness. That is a wonderful piece of Ashford heritage to pass down the generations.