4 comments on “The rise of the domestic bathroom: My childhood in the 60s

  1. In 1973 when I was 28, my husband, 7-months old son, and I flew to London for a month-long vacation. One of the very best highlights was traveling to Beacon Cambourne, Cornwall to see an old family friend that my mother and all of us called Aunt Bessie. Bessie and her husband, who had been a miner, came to Flint, Michigan in the 1920’s to seek a better life. They boarded with my grandparents–my grandmother was born in High Wycombe and had been a traveling companion to a wealthy woman who eventually settled in Montreal, Canada–and stayed until my mother was nine years old. Aunt Bessie was heartbroken at the prospect of leaving my mother, wherein my grandmother promised to bring her to didn’t the summer in five years. True to her word, the two of them failed to England on the Berengaria in 1937….getting there in time to avoid the war. At ant rate, by 1973, Aunt Bessie lived in council housing, living room and separate kitchen-dining area with a huge low sink for food preparation and bathing. On the upper floor, I’m assuming that there were two bedrooms. In the very small garden behind the building, there was esentially an outdoor toilet that flushed. I remember thinking at the time that in the States, an outdoor toilet in public housing would have raised a commotion, although ment of us who have owned rustic hunting camps have had them…basically a wooden seat with body waste going into a deep hole beneath. As an adult I live in a 117 year old house that was built for a bride that I knew when I was a child, and I use the original cast iron claw-foot bathtub.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ellen
      wow thanks for that, it’s very interesting.
      Yes it used to be pretty normal to have an earth-closet, ie going into a hole in the ground, especially in rural areas, but an outdoor loo, with flushing toilet was even more common. When I first got married in 1981 our next door neighbour to our first home had an outdoor loo of the flushing sort, with a slight gap under the door. My cat used to play with the old guy’s belt as he sat on the loo!!!! Those were houses built in the 1890s. But the house where hubby and I live now was built in the 1970s, yet still the downstairs loo is the one that used to be outdoors, just the previous occupants built a proper roof over and extended the back of the house. When we moved in, in 2008, the original old toilet was still there (and it was vile – my daughter and I refused to use it!)
      Strangely, things are moving full circle – composting toilets that rely solely on rainwater or on compost/earth being added are coming back into vogue – especially in countries where water is scarce or unreliable.


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