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Award Winning Toilets

Commissioned by Rothesay Harbour Trust in 1899 during Rothesay’s hey-day as a holiday resort, the gents lavatory is a magnificent sight to behold.

The interior walls are entirely clad in ornately patterned decorative ceramic tiles and the floors are designed with ceramic mosaic.

Apart from the cisterns in the cubicles, all the original fitments remain as supplied in 1899 by Twyfords Ltd of Glasgow for £530.

Marble and tile sinksRothesay's Victorian Toilets

Rothesay’s Victorian Toilets

You don’t generally think of a public toilet as a tourist attraction, but then, Rothesay’s Victorian Toilets are no ordinary public convenience! These restored 19th-century gentlemens’ toilets are a testament to Victorian design, utilising marble furnishings, copper piping, exquisite tilework, and a mosaic floor.

The Victorian Toilets are a reminder of the heady days when Rothesay was a popular destination for day-trippers from Glasgow, who came on regular paddle steamers from the mainland to enjoy an outing by the sea.


The toilets were built in 1899 by the Rothesay Harbour Trust at a cost of £530. Only the cisterns in the toilet cubicles are not original; every other part of the fittings is exactly as supplied by the Twyford Company of Glasgow.

The toilets are the most impressive public conveniences in Britain, and are B-listed for their heritage value. Three glass-lined cisterns at ceiling level feed 20 urinals made of a mix of marble and ceramic tiles.

The centrepiece is a six-sided urinal with black marble frames, supporting a large potted plant on top.

Only the gentlemen’s’ toilets are of Victorian date; the female toilets were added in 1994 by converting storage rooms and are ordinary public toilets.

Female visitors will want to have the attendant knock on the door before taking a look inside!

Why were there originally only male toilets?

The answer begins in 1853, when a law was passed banning the sale of alcohol in Scotland on Sundays. However, paddle steamers were exempt from this ban. The result ought to have been predictable; Scots intent on a drink took to ‘steaming’, which became popular slang for getting drunk.

Men drank heavily on board the steamers, yet there were few toilets on board. The result was long queues and a pressing need for toilets onshore. Presumably, women didn’t drink so heavily on board ship, for no provision was made for them ashore!

The Victorian Toilets were rescued from years of neglect and restored in 1994.


Be aware — the Victorian Toilets are not a museum exhibit, but fully functioning public toilets!


FIND the Loo’s

The Victorian Toilets are in a late-Victorian building by the ferry terminal in Rothesay


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