Toilets Of Manchester Tour.

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The bridge next to The Lass O Gowrie was the site of the Oldest ‘Pissotiere’

Can you think of a more unusual way to spend a few pennies ( Tee Hee )  than booking a walking tour round the old toilets of Manchester??  My friend Fi decided to do just that for her Birthday recently…..and it proved to be a very interesting way to while away a couple of hours. ๐Ÿ™‚  Billed as the cities ‘ most convenient tour’  this guided walk explores the history of Manchester’s use of toilets, from the Industrial Revolution onwards.

We met up with our tour guide and  the rest of the group ( which included a band of  poo enthusiasts !  )  at The Lass O Gowrie  Public House on Charles street , just off Oxford Road.  This old tiled Real Ales pub is situated on the site of  the oldest ‘Pissotiere’ in Manchester. A pissotiere is a much pleasanter sounding word for public urinal. It was a public toilet ( with no privacy ) , where gents could relieve themselves into the river below. As you can imagine the river Medlock soon became a very smelly cesspit.

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The Lass O Gowrie and nearby The Sailisbury are situated in a part of Manchester known as Little Ireland, a former slum area in the city. Anne ( our guide )  told us  that Irish immigrants moved here in the 1820s to work in the factories and mills.  Conditions were dyre with inhabitants living in crowded squaller in back to back terraces with  

whole streets sharing  just one toilet.  And that toilet was little more than a  big  bucket that was emptied once a week.  ๐Ÿ˜ฆ  With the smog and pollution and insanitary filth , it must have been one hell of a miserable life here. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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Temple  Of Convenience !

On a more cheery note our next stop on The Toilets of Manchester Tour, was  a former public toilet which is now a subterranean bar !  The Temple Of Convenience  on Bridgewater Street was one of the Victorian-era lavatories  originally built for businessmen and gentlemen visitors to the city. I don’t think ladies went to the toilet in those days, not public ones anyway!  It would have been fun to bob inside the Temple for a quick half, but alas a drink in a former loo was not part of the  tour. ; (

 Anne regaled us with more tales and information about Manchester’s toilet history as we walked round the city in the wind and rain. It was therefore a nice surprise when she led us into an impressive  Neo Gothic building that looked like a church, but is actually John Rylands Library. 

John Rylands Library was completed in 1900 and was founded by Enriquita Rylands in tribute to  her late husband, a Manchester textile mill owner and millionaire. Enriquita wanted the best of everything in the library , including the latest in modern flushing lavatories. ๐Ÿ™‚


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Inside the magnificent  John Rylands  Library.

 The original  Victorian  toilets ( the oldest working loos in Manchester! ) can be found in the library basement.  Fortunately by 1900 Ladies could use public conveniences too, so Fi , Jo and I trundled off to spend a penny. ๐Ÿ™‚


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The imposing ‘ King Of King Street’.

Our last stop on the tour was  ‘ The jamie Oliver’ Restaurant !   It resides in an imposing  1930’s  Art Decor building , formerly the Midland Bank at 100 King Street , known as The King Of King Street.  

 Whilst the top floors house  a swish boutique hotel called  Hotel Gotham , the former bank vault ( which can be hired out for parties)  is adjacent to the rest rooms, which contain reproduction Thomas Crapper lavatories .  

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Flushed Away!

Thomas Crapper was a renowned Victorian plumber and inventor whose flush toilets had the Royal Seal of Approval!  His name lives on in potty mouths everywhere. ๐Ÿ™‚

We found this walking tour at

ยฃ8 per person.

Can you recommend any unusual walking tours? 

25 thoughts on “Toilets Of Manchester Tour.”

  1. Oh when I saw the title of your post I nearly gave a great big cheer. I do love a good public toilet and very nearly included a goal in my 17 for 2017 for posts about loos. And here you are with a fabulous tour of loos. Love love love this post!

    1. Ha ha thanks very much! It was certainly an interesting tour and something completely different. Trust my friend to pick it as a Birthday treat! X

  2. Brilliant! I once visited a museum in Stoke on Trent which has a section dedicated to tiles and porcelain and had a history of the toilet exhibition with various toilets through the years on display – it was so interesting! I never knew you could take such a tour in Manchester, but it’s certainly something I’d find interesting!

    1. There’s lots of different and quite quirky walking tours in Manchester apparently. This is probably one of the most unusual! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. I love the John Rylands library, and the ‘historic toilets’ sign posts to their Victorian loos. We visited a couple of weeks ago and I took a couple of sneaky photos inside the loos pretending that I hadn’t seen the ‘no photography’ signs!

    1. Oh wow I actually didn’t see the ‘no photography’ signs ! ๐Ÿ™‚ The library is so startlingly stunning inside, I will have to pay it another visit. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hilarious! What a strange tour! We ate at Jamie Oliver’s place in cheltenham, it was in an old courtroom and still had tables in the judges bench, the jury and even the dock! It was great fun!

    1. Oh wonderful! I do love quirky looking restaurants. My friends and I have actually eaten in the hotel above that Jamie restaurant in Manchester. Hotel Gotham is all 1930s Great Gatsby like. ๐Ÿ™‚

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