London's Most Glorious Toilets: The Twickenham Pissoir

By Londonist Last edited 7 months ago
London's Most Glorious Toilets: The Twickenham Pissoir

Intrepid toilet connoisseur Yuri Nation tracks down London's most unusual lavatories.

Twickenham is the bladder of London. Twice a day, the tidal Thames bursts its banks, and will moisten the legs of anyone caught short. Like this lady.

Meanwhile, the area is world famous for the kicking, tossing and scrumming of ovoid bladders.

So I'm happy to report that the town also harbours one of London's most distinctive facilities for bladder relief... but only if you're a man.

York House Gardens, by the river, is a place of wacky statues, naked rock-frolicking, great trees and unexpected views. It also has an outdoor urinal that looks like a rejected design for a Tardis.

The pistachio pissoir is genuine Victorian. Its decorative ironwork has sheltered needy gentlemen for generations. The design was once common, but such structures are now vanishingly rare.

Rhododendron and yew surround the urinal, providing natural camouflage for the avocado-skinned structure. You might just hear it before you see it. Every few minutes, the sound of rinse water emanates from the bushes.

Remarkably, the pissoir still functions. I walk in with some trepidation. Will it be clean? Will it be empty? Is this a trap?

Nothing of the sort. Inside, a quartet of ceramic bays compete for my liquid egesta. They are passably clean, and well maintained, though hints of rust and flaked paint tarnish the surround.

No smell, though. The ironwork grilles are not merely decorative, but also remove most of the whiff. Catch the pissoir on a fine day, and the same grilles will split the sunlight into dainty dapples. Those Victorians really knew what they were doing.

Well, mostly. There's no wash basin. If you want to scrub your hands, you'll have to toddle off to the nearby town hall, or else pick up the urinal cake and use that for soap, you monster.

My bladder evacuated, I notice an embossed sign that requires me to 'adjust my dress before leaving'. Perhaps the ladies are welcome after all.

The Twickenham Pissoir can be found in York House Gardens, a little inside the Sion Road entrance.

Last Updated 14 January 2020