Wednesday, April 16, 2014
A gentlemen’s to relish
My route to Bath the other day took me around the edge of Bristol. Emboldened by my recent post of an ornate lavatory in Worcester, I decided to seek out an even more interesting example: the late-19th-century gents in the corner of Mina Road Park, in the northern part of Bristol.
The building was made, probably in the 1880s, at the Sun Foundry in Glasgow, a business founded by George Smith in the late 1850s. The Sun Foundry became prolific producers of architectural ironwork, together with such items as drinking fountains and bandstands. They described themselves as ‘Art Metal Workers, Iron Founders and Sanitary Engineers’, so they were clearly well suited to the manufacture of structures like this iron pissoir. They certainly lavished as much attention on its details as they did on projects like ornamental fountains and cast-iron Corinthian columns.
This tiny gents, practical and elegant, is an asset in the corner of the park, and it was good to see that it has been carefully maintained and painted. It’s not so good inside – the graffiti vandals have been at work – but the view up into the openwork dome, with the resulting view of the sky and breath of fresh air, is uplifting. As in Worcester, this amenity proves that a visit to the lavatory can be interesting, architecturally. It’s a pity the burghers of Bristol did not supply something similar for the ladies.