Long-neglected toilet may gain heritage protection

After narrowly escaping demolition in the 1970s, a rare old Dunedin public toilet may soon gain national heritage protection.

The Dunedin City Council has more recently acted to protect the old toilet at the intersection of Manor Pl and Princes St and has also applied for national heritage listing.

Built in 1912, it is believed to be the oldest free-standing public toilet in the country, of this late Victorian style.

Council digital archivist, historian and "Loo Lady" Alison Breese was "very excited" to receive a Heritage New Zealand response, acknowledging her application for high-level heritage protection.

"We greatly appreciate the time and effort you’ve put into preparing your application," the note said.

Dunedin City Council digital archivist Alison Breese outside the former public toilet near the...
Dunedin City Council digital archivist Alison Breese outside the former public toilet near the Market Reserve. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN

The heritage list approval process — potentially providing category 1 protection — could take up to a year.

However, better things are now in the pipeline for the public toilet which has long been locked and previously neglected.

"It’s important because it’s more than just a toilet," Mrs Breese said.

The building was rare because most public toilets were remodelled in the 1960s, whereas it had retained its original tiles and urinals.

"In 1976 it was marked for demolition," she said.

It was kept locked and the only reason it was saved was that it was used by key-equipped drivers at the nearby bus depot.

This once popular but now largely non-existent late Victorian style of public toilet was beautiful inside but was outside carefully screened by bushes, from the public gaze.

This toilet was a rare reminder of the original style and fittings of the former "Underground" toilets in the Exchange and the Octagon, which were removed long ago.

Building them was costly. Mr A. Ferry, of Roslyn, won the tender to build this one for £295 in 1912.



Please, do not waste my taxes dollars on this. Soon we will be digging up all our 100 year old rubbish tips to find lost treasures? Do we have too many technocrats living off our taxes with nothing better to do?

So you're saying it's money down the toilet?