Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Clifton, Bristol

Beyond the pissoir

Prompted by my recent posts of an iron gents in Bath and a splendid pissoir in Bristol, a commenter mentioned the half-timbered public convenience at Clifton, and, as I was in the city briefly the other day, I took a walk across the greenery to find it. Here it is, huddled against the cliff by the Avon Gorge, a few yards from the suspension bridge that makes Clifton famous. 

‘A bicycle shed is a building, Lincoln cathedral is a piece of architecture,’ wrote the great Dr Pevsner, defining the boundaries of his field. A public lavatory, by implication, might well fall into the mere ‘building’ category, but this one has enough marks of the designer’s effort to make it, surely, a piece of architecture. Read into this piece of architecture what you will: civic upmanship, a style verging on the rustic to fit into the green surroundings, a solid stone base to harmonize with the cliffs behind, a winning combination of grandeur and domesticity, a chance for the carpenter to show off with all those brackets and gables, generous eaves to shelter the passer-by during rain. However you look at it, the city that could produce both the suspension bridge just along the road and the grand Regency terraces of Clifton a few hundred yards away clearly thought it could do something memorable when putting up a building with an altogether humbler, though no less useful, function. The denizens of Clifton should be flushed with pride.


Stephen Barker said...

Bristol should be proud that from the outside that the building is being well maintained and not boarded up against vandels,

Philip Wilkinson said...

Indeed. The central public loos in our Cotswold town were sold off a while back and turned into cottages, which are now rented: Cotswold stone, outwardly attractive, tiny. I wonder if the tenants realise that they're living in a former lavatory.

Anonymous said...

looks a bit too grand to widdle in

bazza said...

The building is very evocative of seafront public toilets and I seem to remember something in similar style in the gardens behind Bournemouth pier.
That could be a £500,000 property in some parts of London!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Joseph Biddulph (Publisher) said...

Thanks for including my favourite Convenience! When, with the Cuts, are we ever going to see something NEW along these lines? If architecture is good, surely we need it wherever possible: if you have to take away part of Nature's beautiful work in the Avon Gorge, surely it is right to put something aesthetically pleasing in its place? Full marks Bristol!