Now here’s a question to get started, after all everyone needs to learn one piece of useless information every day…. What are Urilifts?
After our pledge to make the most of our hometown, we googled ‘quirky stuff to do in London’. Up popped a whole host of options, but before we knew it we had picked our favourite. We found ourselves booking onto one of the more random options – The London Loo tour! “You are doing what?” asked several of our friends. “We are joining the London Loo Tour” we proudly responded!
This was met with two main reactions from our friends. Firstly why on Earth would you do it. This was quickly followed with a… ‘but that sounds quite cool’!
Armed with my big SLR camera (no one wants to miss that prize-winning dunny shot) we set off to meet Rachel, the self-proclaimed ‘Loo Tour Lady’ (LTL). Rachel has quite possibly one of the most random job title ever, and you get the impression she loves it! A former drama student, she guides you effortlessly through the U-bend of toilet trivia, and from here on in she will be referred to as ‘LTL’.
Although there are several tours on offer, we thought we would start with the original and the best –The Waterloo Tour (no pun intended). This tour was set to last 1 ½ hours and provides practical trips for finding the best free loos in London, as well of course as the history of loos and lots of better-than bog standard jokes. Cross-legged with excitement we met outside the toilets at platform 19 and the adventure began. LTL, armed with her raised loo plunger held proudly in the air, walked us out of the station and we were off. We were all very amused by the odd looks that we received and the double takes the plunger demanded!
Our first stop was to see the Royal Jubiloos….. opened along South Bank in honour of the Queens Jubilee. These are pay toilets, but with Union Jack toilet seats, bins and mirrors they are well work the 50p entrance fee. Of course being part of the London Loo Tour granted us VIP free access – just proving that there is nowhere the toilet plunger can’t reach!
It transpired that my keenness to find free public conveniences was shared with many in the group. When you need to spend a penny you don’t want it to cost you a pound and I’m delighted to say LTL shared her top secret best haunts – both official and unofficial! As a proud Londoner I thought I knew lots of the back roads, but as we wound our way through toilet-graffiti alleyways and discovered hidden parks I felt like I was rediscovering my own city, all whilst having several historical facts thrown in. Who ever knew that I would find the history of the London sewer system so interesting…
Now back to that question of the Urilift. LTL told us how things are a bit inequitable with loos. For men there are not only static WCs, but in an attempt to stop them watering the plants late at night, the powers that be have come up with better ideas.
Perhaps my favourite of which is the Urilift. When we saw it, it looked little more than a man-hole cover on the ground. You have never seen us looking so excited as when we returned the following week and it had ‘popped up’ and was proudly stood in all its glory. So bowled over by it were we, that we forgot to take a picture! So instead I present to you the official Urilift website featuring the Urilift – Solution against street urination video….. It’s worth a watch if you, like us get excited by this concept!
All too soon our loo tour was up and where better than to finish than in a swanky bar that was once itself a public convenience. You might think I haven’t included much about the tour here. Well that’s the point. We thoroughly enjoyed the walk, the wisdom of LTL but above all, her love of the most bog standard aspect of human existence. We would urge anyone to go and found out all about the hidden gems of the London loo scene. There are a choice of tours and I’d bet a flush on it that you won’t be disappointed!
– Natalie, Toileteer
More information about the tours can be found on Rachel’s London Loo Tours site: www.lootours.com