Wednesday 3 July 2013

Instructions for Managing Toilets

1884 Instructions for the management of London's first underground public toilet. What precisely were 'tell-tales' though? Turnstiles? Tills?


The structure is to be open from 8am to 6pm; Sundays excepted; the Attendants will remain on duty the entire time, without leaving it on any pretence whatever.

The head attendant is solely responsible for seeing the regulations carried out. He will take all money, give a receipt to every person making a payment, which is to be made before the usage of the Water Closets is permitted.

Every day some person from the Office of the Chief Clerk to the Commission, and at such hours as the Chief Clerk may appoint, will attend at the Urinal and receive the monies taken, checking the amounts from the receipts and the tell-tales.

The head man is to assist so far as his time permits in keeping the closets urinals and the apparatus together with the steps, entrances, gates, gullies, surance and other pavements , skylights, outside and sinide lamps, door and every part of structure, both outside and inside, perfectly clean and in good condition. In order to do this, the work of cleansing must be almost continuous.

Anydefect in the apparatus or structure requiring skilled labour to repair must be immediately reported to the Engineer.

The head attendant must lock up and see that everything is secured and clear before leavingg and unlock the urinal in the morning at the hours appointed. He will report to the Clerks Office of the Commission any breach of duty of his assistant.

He will allow no improper conduct to occur. If it takes place, he is to immediately call the attention of the nearest Police Constable.

He is not to permit people to congregate in the building in times of rain, or on any pretence whatever. The place is to be used solely for the purpose for which it is erected.

Both attendants must at all times appear in uniform.

He is to light and extinguish the lamps whenever needed, taking care to burn no more gas than is absolutely needful.

The gas meter and the gas consumptoin will be attended to by Inspector M. Newman who is the Inspector of Gas Lighting and the subways.



  1. 'tell-tales' may refer to tokens which could be bought in advance.

  2. I was wondering the same based on the mention in Haywood's description of the doors having "an improved tell-tale apparatus" (in which context tokens make a lot of sense)