The importance of toilet locations at places of interest

What does ‘welcome’ really mean?

We often see the outside of Buckingham Palace on television but it’s usually only a privileged few who actually get inside. It is therefore rather exciting that there are special tours of the State Rooms now available to the rest of us and, according to the information provided, toilets are available. However, it transpires that these are located at the end of the tour; there are no toilets en route.

To make the most of the visit we are encouraged to allow 2 to 2 1/2 hours and whilst we can visit the toilets during the tour should we need to, the downside is that we’re not allowed to return to where we left off. [BBC News 11 September 2017].

So before the entrance fee is paid a decision has to be made: can you – and your children if you take them – last for over 2 hours before needing the toilet?

Those of us with a bladder/bowel condition could well feel insecure at the prospect. Likewise expectant mums and older people. There is no doubt that security measures are needed in order for these tours to take place but surely an additional toilet could be included at the midway point? The very thought of not easily being able to access a loo can bring about a need, so once again certain sectors of the population are being excluded from a special experience, which we could all enjoy if toilets were more easily available.

The impact of the lack of toilets does not appear to be fully understood or recognised by those who do not regularly experience urgency problems. For those of us who have to deal with sudden involuntary behaviour of our bladder and/or bowel on a daily basis, the opportunities to go out and about without the easy availability of a toilet are severely curtailed or impossible.

We feel anxious; our confidence wanes and we fear the embarrassment of having an ‘accident’. Our world shrinks and we gradually become more isolated – all for the sake of a loo!

It’s amazing the control that a toilet has over our ability to have fun. The UK, once known for its plentiful toilets is now way down the world list as more and more facilities are closed or under threat – even those in tourist areas. Yet by their presence, toilets bring in money! They allow people to stay longer in towns, on beaches, and at exhibitions and encourage us to feel confident enough to want to return.

Having toilets at the end of a 2 hours tour is ticking a box but it’s not the welcome we expected when we saw the sign outside the gates.

Gillian Kemp
Founder of Public Toilets UK, Co-founder of the Toilet Consortium.