- The Beginnings -
Primitive civilisations had no problems, naked or semi-naked, they could pee wherever and whenever the need arose. Only when towns were built and large public assemblies occurred did people have to control their needs. Little evidence remains as to what actually went on, but the ruins that have survived show little or no evidence of toilet facilities. Crowds that gathered for religious festivals in ancient Egypt probably had no formal facilities and those in the centre had either to contain their pee or go in their clothes. The general standards of hygiene were low enough that the smell would not to be noticeable once the wet garments had dried. Similar situations occurred in Greek and Roman times, though the Romans built sewers, public bathhouses and probably other facilities in building like the Coliseum.
However, it is Roman times where I found the first record of desperation. Courtiers and attendants were forbidden to leave the presence of the Emperor, or other important person, until dismissed and would never dare ask permission, regardless of the reason.
Claudius, one of the more benevolent Emperors, made a decree that allowed Senators to leave court briefly 'for natural purposes' after he discovered that one had made himself ill with his efforts to contain his piss in court.
Such store was placed on maintaining appearances, following the correct behaviour, showing respect and the like that it is quite possible that any mention of bodily needs in front of a superior would have been considered an insult and been unthinkable. So it is probable that Claudius' senator was not the only person who had to restrain his pee to the point of injuring himself.
Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Dark Ages would have been a bleak time for desperation fans. Streets and rivers were used as sewers, sanitation was non-existent and most people hardly washed, so peeing (and shitting,) in the streets would have been normal for all classes. Of course there must have been situations when some restrain was needed. The boating scene in the film 'Elizabeth 1' comes to mind. After her suitor had drunk several glasses of wine, would he have had to suffer in desperation, or was it permissible for him to pee over the side of the boat? Being surrounded by water would have been the worst thing for his bladder.
Was peeing, or rather, not peeing, used as a form of torture in medieval times? It does not seem clear if the reason or mechanism of peeing was really understood then, but there must have been some association made between liquid intake and pee output and since the discomfort of refraining from peeing had to be known, this might have been one of the water tortures often mentioned. I have seen it mentioned that even today a crude method of torture is to bind cord round a man's penis and then force him to drink endless water until the pain becomes unbearable. Such a cheap and easy way of inflicting pain could well have been in use for centuries. What would have been the result of this torture? If the binding were tight enough, loss of circulation in his penis would have caused gangrene and if no urine could be expelled, then eventually his bladder would have ruptured, causing an agonising death.
As an aside, castration, when both the penis and testicles were removed, required the victim to refrain from urinating for some days after the operation while the wound healed. It was not uncommon for scar tissue to block the urethra and if this could not be removed, then the victim, unable to pee, would die of a ruptured bladder. Wooden pegs and the like were inserted in the urethra tube immediately after castration in the hope of both preventing inadvertent urination and to prevent the tube closing later.
- 18th and 19th Centuries -
The French court of the 18th C was populated by both sexes and both seem to have suffered from the calls of nature. It is recorded that the ladies used a specially shaped chamber pot, fore-runner of the hospital bottle used today, which they could slide under their full skirts while seated and ease themselves. After use, it would have been discretely removed by a maid. It is not recorded what the men did. Their tight trousers would have made peeing difficult anyway and I imagine that there must have been cases of extreme desperation, particularly considering the amount they drank.
- The Golden Age? -
I have made a study of the 19th C, mainly because of the opportunities for desperation that it seems to offer. There were no public lavatories in London (I can't speak for other cities) until late in the century. The opening of the first public lavatory for men in London, near the Stock Exchange, was celebrated by the publication of crude doggerel poems describing the relief to be obtained in the new building, which suggests that there had been a desperate need for such facilities.
Before that, the lower classes would go openly in the street, or even in their clothes, but the upper classes had no choice but to wait. Gentlemen on their own probably used secluded alley-ways and entrances to ease their bursting bladders, but when in mixed company such behaviour would have been unthinkable.
If a lady lost control it might not have been noticed, but for a gentleman, particularly when tight breeches were the fashion, the slightest loss of control or leakage would have been clearly revealed. As such an indiscretion was inconceivable and would have made them a social outcast, gentlemen would go to almost any lengths to avoid it. This was an age when a type of male 'chastity belt' was used to prevent young men masturbating, so the use of mechanical devices to contain their urine should come as no surprise. It would seem that anything that would stop a man masturbating would also make it difficult, (if not impossible) to pee and I have seen no explanation of behaviour when wearing such a device. Men might bind their penis tightly with strips of cloth or leather, or resort to special clamps, willing to suffer anything as long as they did not disgrace themselves in public.
It also seems to have been quite common for men to suffer from bladder stones, which caused great pain when peeing. A medical book tells that afflicted men would not pee 'until the sheer bursting pressure in their bladder becomes unbearable and urination can no longer be avoided.' The pain when urinating was so great that they would undergo operations without anaesthetic to remove the stones, so they would really have held on to the very limit.
Later, when fashions changed and trousers were looser, gentlemen would fix a pig's bladder to the inside of their thigh, which would contain their leaks in an emergency. Rubber bags, with specially shaped inlets, strapped between their legs, were also used by both sexes 'when travelling or at other inconvenient times.' How effective these were was not recorded, though claims that 'a patented non-return valve ensures that no leakage is possible' suggests that not all were watertight. Once again, it was probable that these devices were only used when it became impossible to contain their pee another second, and they were better than simply releasing in their clothes. Imagine the embarrassment of walking along a quiet street and your companions hearing your pee slopping about in your secret container.
- 19th Century Travel -
As travel by public stage coach became more popular, the number of people exposed to long journeys with no opportunities for relief increased. Coach operators would warn passengers 'to make every preparation to ensure their comfort throughout the journey' and rely on the Inns at the stopping places to provide facilities for the passengers. In bad weather the journey times would have increased and no extra provision was made for the passengers. Journey times of over four hours without a stop were common, which, particularly in the morning, must have taken some passengers to the limit of their capacity, or even beyond it. Complaints that this resulted in some passengers being in such pain that they were hardly able to walk unaided at the end of the stage were ignored because there was no alternative means of travelling. It is also mentioned that the coaches frequently needed cleaning after these long stages and this did not refer to simply sweeping out the dust. The shame of a passenger who was unable to contain their pee another second must have been terrible. Probably they would have sat still and tried not to reveal what was happening, hoping that their clothes would absorb the leaks, never giving up, but continuing to fight the need until the end of the journey. 'Being in pain' would have been a true description of their condition.
Early railway carriages, all single compartments, no corridors, had no toilet facilities at all. Since their rivals, the coach companies, had been able to flourish while making their passengers wait on long journeys, the railways would have expected to do the same. Their responsibilities would have been fulfilled by providing toilet facilities on their stations and passengers were expected to hold out until the end of their journey or some intermediate stop allowed them to use the station facilities. I had not heard about the Swindon stop described in the Dec 2000 Cascade.
For either sex to make such a blatant display of urination, their needs must have been very great, with no possibility of enduring the remainder of the journey.
As competition between the railway companies increased and fast services became important, the intermediate stops like Swindon would have been cut out. Railway companies were notorious for ignoring their passengers' needs in the pursuit of the fastest journey, to the extent that intermediate towns such as Swindon and Chatham had to take them to court to get trains to stop. This would have given desperate passenger the chance to pee - a welcome relief on a long journey.
Rival companies sharing the same track would deliberately block each other's trains. A London to Brighton train was once delayed, stuck between stations for more that 8 hours which must have caused the passengers unendurable levels of desperation.
Later, perhaps because the introduction of upholstered seats was making it inconvenient or expensive to clean the trains after these journeys, lavatory compartments were introduced, but still no connecting corridors. Passengers needing to pee had to change compartments at a stop and again, such a blatant display would have only happened because of desperate need.
We can only imagine the feeling of a refined individual, in a train or carriage with strangers, whose need to pee is becoming more and more desperate as he fights to control himself without revealing his need, until eventually his body can hold no more and he begins to pee where he sits, first soaking his clothes, then the seat cushion and finally making an embarrassingly obvious puddle on the floor. He would have willingly tried anything that might have avoided such a disgrace.
As mentioned earlier, containers - special containers that were rubber bags with shaped inlets, were strapped between the legs, to allow the wearer to pee at any time. These were advertised as suitable for both sexes for use when travelling, with claims that no leakage was possible. How effective these were was not recorded, but they show that travellers had no other way of relieving themselves. Made of rubber they would have been prone to perish and split in use with embarrassing results and would only have been used in emergencies and when nothing better was available. To say nothing of the discomfort of ending a long journey with a bagful of pee tied between the legs and praying that it will neither split or the noise of the pee 'sloshing about' will be heard and identified. Travelling rugs over their legs might have been used by both sexes to cover their struggles to wait and their failures to do so, as well as to keep warm, though the strict conditioning that it was dirty to touch themselves 'down there' would have inhibited them from holding themselves unless there was no other way of avoiding a worse disgrace by wetting themselves.
When it was necessary to travel, one can imagine the distress of any person with a smaller than normal bladder, who might be only to aware of the desperation and disgrace that such a long journey might bring and it is not surprising that gentlemen would resort to penis clamps to hold back their pee and prevent any indiscrete leakage. The 'stomach pain ' from using such a device would have been suffered in silence as punishment for their weakness in not being able to conform to the social standards of the day. Gentlemen would have been ashamed to admit that they could not control their natural needs and would have suffered in silence. Should we be surprised that ladies were so prone to 'fainting' or were considered to be 'too delicate to travel' when a journey might result in the agony of a bladder stretched to bursting point and even beyond. From what I have read of the social standards of the time I believe that ladies and even gentlemen would have done anything and everything they could to hold their pee rather than admit in public that they could not wait any longer. Only the lower classes would have relieved them selves in public or admitted to such needs and it was a mark of the upper classes that no such need would ever be expressed in public.
It has been noted that 'while evidence of the need for urination was visible in every alley-way, or secluded doorway and on most streets, the upper classes had to live in complete denial that such an act ever took place.' Think about this next time you see a period drama on TV. This is probably when the tube inside the trouser leg, used by football fans to pee on crowded terraces, was first used by gentlemen whose need to pee was too great to contain and had no other way of releasing their pee in public. Streets were normally filthy and wet with horse manure and a stream of pee running over their boot would have been far better than a stream of pee down their trouser leg.
I can only emphasise that the social conventions of the day made any reference or mention of peeing or similar subjects absolutely taboo among the upper classes and any journey or social activity such as attending church would have been likely to have meant being deprived of any chance to pee until they could return to their own home. As a gentleman it was unthinkable to ever mention a need to pee or even worse to be seen performing the act. It would have been a delightful (to us!) the situation of the person having to wait at any cost or discomfort. Penis clamps or other means of applying pressure to his 'manhood' would have been the last resort of a gentleman who would have been prepared to accept any level of pain from such a device, so long as he could hold back his pee and keep his trousers dry. Circulation of the blood was not understood then, so the danger of such a device would not have been appreciated. Those who did not own a clamp might have resorted to a strip of leather or cloth bound round their penis. In fact anything that would help them wait and avoid the public disgrace of having to admit to a need to pee.
- Leisure Activities -
During the 19th Century, the upper classes, particularly those living in towns, had a great deal of leisure time, but it seems likely that many of their activities would have been pursued while desperate to pee. I have not been able to see any detailed plans of theatres, concert halls, or similar places, but I would imagine that toilet facilities would have been non-existent for the audience, while performers would have been expected to use buckets in the dressing rooms. Gentlemen might have been able to bribe a doorman to allow them outside a back entrance to pee against the wall. Presumably those that could not wait would either pee down their legs onto the carpet during the intervals, or wet the seat and hope it was not noticed. Would those in private boxes have had the special chamber pots that they could use? Possible and then some attendant would have been paid to discretely remove it?
Balls and other large formal parties probably did not have any provision for guests to pee either, despite the quantities of wine and champagne they would drink. I believe that the repeated references to guests going outside onto the terrace or into the garden to get some fresh air, probably also allowed them to empty their bursting bladders. Again gentlemen would have needed an excuse to move into the shadows, or behind some bushes. Remember, the rigid conventions of the time forbade any mention of such needs to their partner.
It is even less likely that the public parks and pleasure gardens would have had any facilities. Walking here, gentlemen would have had to hold out until they could find some excuse to retreat behind a tree or bush.
It is definitely recorded that the popular spas at Bath, Cheltenham, Tunbridge Wells and others did not offer their patrons any 'private facilities,' that is toilets. As the normal spa treatments included drinking copious quantities of the water, this must have caused unbelievable levels of desperation among the visitors. They would have to wait throughout the course of treatment they had started, perhaps not aware of what it entailed until it was too late to back out. They had no option but to contain themselves until they were finished and could return to their lodgings or hotel. Horse cab and sedan chair drivers working at these spas were rumoured to take full advantage of this, raising their fares according to how they perceived the urgency of the journey. My imagination dwells on the fate of an individual with less capacity than average, in a party taking the waters, being forced by conventions to remain with the groups even though his bladder was at bursting point and he was beginning to disgrace himself.
It is, of course, quite possible that the number of semi-invalids, persons of delicate disposition and the like, who hardly ventured outside their own houses, were, in part, people with small bladders, who so feared disgracing themselves that they avoided any risk of it happening. Older men with prostrate trouble is one group that comes to mind, who must have suffered terribly when away from home. Cystitis and other urinary tract ailments would have been just as prevalent as today and more persistent without the modern drugs to cure them.
Most people went to church or chapel in those days and sermons were expected to last two or three hours or more, not the 15 minutes of today. Sitting for three or four hours in a cold church would have been another desperate situation. I have seen a reference, which I can no longer find, about iron railings being built round a church to prevent men peeing against the walls. When the service finished the men of the congregation, beside themselves with desperation, would rush behind the church to relieve themselves facing the building. The soft sandstone walls were being eroded by the streams of pee directed at them.
So how did these people survive having to wait far longer that we do now? Training is one answer. Cascade contributors have described how, as adults, they have increased their bladder capacity by repeatedly holding on until bursting point. Earlier generations of the upper classes were trained to wait almost from birth. Strict nannies would have toilet trained their charges and then disciplined them to 'wait' until they were allowed to go and made them sit still while waiting. School discipline was much stricter, with little regard for the children's welfare, so again they would have been made to wait until lessons finished before being allowed to leave the class. I have heard rumours that certain schools specifically trained the pupils to be able to hold their pee for as long as possible, presumably by simply not allowing them access to the toilets.
- Public Lavatories -
It is fairly well known that the first public lavatories were at the Great Exhibition in 1853 and the history of these shows the attitude of the age. When the exhibition was being planned an entrepreneur approached the organising committee with the proposal that he would install some of the newly invented Water Closets for public use and charge a small fee for this facility. This was rejected by the committee for the reason that 'the public were coming to see an exhibition and not go to the lavatory.' However 'common sense' prevailed and three WC's were installed and he charged the public a penny to use them. This charge was 1/12 of the entrance fee and probably equates to about 50p (1$, or 1 Euro) today. Imagine going to Disney-World and being charged this to pee! To the surprise of the organisers these WC's proved so popular that long queues formed and higher charges were introduced on those near the entrance to encourage the public to hold on and use those further inside the exhibition. Two points to note here; This shows that the public were arriving at the exhibition desperate to pee and that the need must have been so great that they were prepared to be seen waiting in a line to get into the WC and thus revealing their great need to pee. It was commented that the popularity of the public lavatories showed that there was a great unsatisfied need for such facilities and it revealed the extent of public suffering caused by the lack of such facilities. Many early public lavatories were built following this exhibition showing that urban authorities took notice of such a need. The charge of one penny was established as the penny coin of the day was conveniently large and heavy enough to activate the cubicle lock and within the means of most desperate individuals, who would prefer to spend the money instead of peeing down their legs. Many people would still have been too poor to spend this money and others would have been ashamed to be seen entering a public lavatory and opted to try to hold out until they could reach the comfort of their own homes.
- More on Victorian Clothing -
When conducting further research on clothing of this period, I began to note what seemed to me to be a recurring theme. I think it is important to emphasise that 'bodily functions' were a taboo subject in those days and would not have been mentioned even among friends or relatives. Because of this conditioning from childhood, the idea of deliberate urination in public, even under the clothing, would have been unthinkable to anyone and they would try to contain themselves until the pressure became unbearable and release involuntary. To emphasise this, a medical book of the time remarks on the prevalence of constipation among those living in houses where the path to the outside privy was visible from the house. Many individuals were so embarrassed by the thought of even their family knowing they were visiting the privy that they would avoid doing so if at all possible. Their bladder could be eased in a chamber pot in the privacy of their bedroom, but their bowels had to be clenched shut until they could reach the privy unseen. With such modesty prevailing, how many people would be willing to be seen entering a public lavatory on the rare occasions, such as the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace, when they were provided?
Another point is that photographs and pictures of Victorian groups often show the men standing casually with one or both hands in their trouser pockets, obviously a fashion of the time and as every man today knows, a very convenient way of discretely gripping his penis and controlling a desperate need to pee. Once again, it seemed to me, normal behaviour provided the best way of concealing their desperation. Men, despite wearing long drawers, would have dared not risk even the smallest leak of pee, for fear of an embarrassing wet patch on their breeches or trousers. Alone they might have been able to pee in some alleyway, but even in male only company such behaviour would have been frowned on and absolutely unthinkable when ladies were present.
Cycling joined the railways as a fashionable way of getting about and would have provided another circumstance when someone's bladder would have been strained. I cannot imagine an individual out in a mixed group, dismounting their cycle and going behind a hedge to 'ease themselves.' The ones with the smallest bladders, or who had drunk too much tea before setting out, would have suffered the most and there must have been times when they were close to breakdown and disgracing themselves before some excuse was found to take a break. Perhaps there would have been a stop for refreshments, during which the men would walk off 'to admire the view,' and the ladies go the other way into the woods 'looking for wild flowers'.
- 20th Century Desperation -
Early motorists, already unpopular with the general public, would not have wanted to stop for any reason if they could avoid it, not even to allow their passengers to 'go behind the hedge.' Their only hope would have been that the frequent breakdowns occurred at some convenient place.
In the time between the wars charabanc or coach outings became popular and with slow, unreliable, coaches, many of these outings must have ended with their passengers desperately wanting to 'spend a penny.' Many of the seaside town public loos date from this period, so the need must have become obvious for public money to be spent in this way.
The Second War caused much desperation, and for the first time some of these were clearly documented. With all their rolling stock pressed into use, it was inevitable that long journeys were made in non-corridor trains, often without a stop and passengers had to manage as best they could. One train of evacuees leaving London is reported to have had to stop at Oxford when passengers pulled the communication cord, because, in the coy language of the official report, 'the pressure of nature had become unbearable for many passengers.' A group of nurses, lucky enough to have a compartment to themselves, have described how they took turns to pee into a tin mug and empty it out of the window.
A bomber pilot wrote that even on 12-hour flights it was so difficult to pee that the crew would wait if it were at all possible. All that was provided was a funnel and drain tube and often the ground crew would re-route the tube so that the pee either drained onto another crew, or it overflowed onto the person peeing. Some aircraft did not even have this, the ground crew having the unpleasant task of cleaning the cockpit after each flight, though it may have been fear as much as desperation that caused many pilots to lose control.
Just before and just after the Second War, two royal funerals and two coronations brought enormous crowds to London and I doubt if any extra facilities were provided for their comfort. I have looked at newspapers of the time, which show the procession route and viewing areas, but no indications of public lavatories. After the Silver Jubilee procession, with much smaller crowds, there was a long queue for the loo in the Mall, several adults either holding themselves or contorting themselves, legs plaited and doubling over. Twenty-five years earlier I am sure the desperation was even more spectacular, but is there anyone who remembers it and will share the experience?
Post war England saw a great boom in public spending, including the building a many new public toilets in the 1960's and 1970's, as if there was a sudden government decision that bladders must not be subject to strain anymore. Maybe there was some justification for this, because as a child in about 1960 I remember a trip west, along the A30, when we took ages to get as far as Camberley, (maybe 25 miles) by which time all the family were bursting. Even the gent's public convenience at Camberley had a queue and we had to wait ages. I was too young to appreciate the desperation there must have been, other than having some vague memories of some people holding themselves.
Increasing prosperity meant more people owned cars and were 'out and about' at weekends and holidays, so there was some need for extra toilets, as an increasingly urbanised population could no longer be expected to go behind a bush. The words of the Joni Mitchell song should have been 'See paradise, put up a public loo
' at least in England.
Perhaps one benefit of the current shortage of public money is that these public loos are now falling into disrepair and being closed, either being replaced with a single 'Tardis' type, which is often broken, or nothing. As in so many things, Britain is adopting the American approach and leaving toilets to private enterprise, who will naturally want to keep these for their customers only. As we enter the new millennium, I have noticed two hopeful signs for desperation fans. Many railway stations, now in private ownership of some sort, are either shutting their loos, or closing them at 8 p.m. 'for security,' which with new rolling stock without loos, is far from convenient for anyone who wants to drink and not drive. Secondly, I know of one motor-way service area that has recently been rebuilt being far smaller; previously they could easily absorb a coach load of bursting individuals, now even a small coach has a queue out of the door. If these trends continue, then we could be entering another golden age of desperation.
- Further thoughts on Victorian England or the 19th Century -
After writing the first 'Peeing in the Past', I have made further studies of the 19th Century, in particular Victorian England, which seems to have truly been the golden age of desperation and wetting. For the first part of the century there seems to have been no formal provision for public relief or easement, as was the term of the day and a rising prudery that made any open declaration or revelation of such 'private' needs taboo in polite society. It might have been accepted that the lower classes would relieve themselves in the street, as being considered generally inferior and much less refined; they might be expected to behave in such an obscene way. It was probably not considered that they did not have much choice in the matter. With no public facilities and only the crudest and most primitive toilet arrangements in their slums or tenement blocks (a landlord would not want to waste space and money on a proper lavatory and would provide only a bucket for 'calls of nature' and expect his tenants to make their own provisions in the street for other needs. It was not uncommon, when bad weather discouraged crossing the yard to the privy, often in a disgusting state and attached to an overflowing cess-pit, for children and even adults to pee in their filthy beds or on the floor of their rooms. From the luxury of 21st century England it is difficult to imagine the plight of the poor in 19th century England. Most lived a desperate existence without the support of any social or health services. Those without a job, who could not afford to rent a room, or house had to survive on the streets and live hand to mouth by thieving, prostitution, or any other means they could. If social commentaries were to be believed, any money they might come by would be squandered on drink, which would give some oblivion from their miserable existence. Drunk and destitute, neither man nor woman would have second thoughts about peeing in the street or in their clothes. Common lodging houses, the only shelter for such unlucky people were frequently described as having a filthy, piss-soaked straw mattresses, suggesting that peeing in the bed was not uncommon.
With the lower classes behaving in this way is it surprising that the upper classes tried to hold themselves above such behaviour and would not allow any reference to such base needs? Fortunately for our imaginations, refined, well-dressed individuals of all ages must have suffered the agonies of extreme desperation when living in a world that made little provision for their comfort and no facilities for their relief from calls of nature. I suspect that this scenario is the origin of the term 'stretching our legs' now used as a euphemism for a pee stop on a coach outing. Desperate men would indeed be grateful of the chance to 'stretch their legs' during a coach journey; walking along the side of the road or across a field would allow them to release their pee without anyone else seeing what they were doing. Since they all did it, they might know what the others were doing, but not say anything. Gentlemen, whose clothes were not so conveniently designed, had to hold on with one hand in their trouser pockets until they could look for rabbits or highway robbers hiding behind the hedge and get out of sight of the ladies before daring to unbutton their trousers and pee.
Ladies who complain today of the unfair bias towards male toilet facilities might remember that at this time, gentlemen were at a great disadvantage pee-wise, as their trousers would reveal the slightest leak and the casual walking off and standing back to the group or facing a wall or tree, was not socially acceptable. Nor was there room in their trousers for the rubber container to pee into that ladies who were scared of being caught desperate, could hide under their skirts. Is it any wonder that a shy gentleman, or one with prostate trouble, would resort to a clamp or binding on his penis as the only alternative to a wet patch on his trousers? The pain from using such a device would have been nothing to the shame of peeing in his trousers.
The 'Great Exhibition' is often talked about as the first instance when public lavatories were provide for the comfort of visitors and it is interesting to look at the history of this; it reveals the general attitude of the age towards such provisions, as well as marking the end of the 'golden age.'
When the Exhibition was being planned and the entrepreneur, approaching the organising committee offering to provide 'W.Cs for the public to use 'on payment of a small fee.' This offer was rejected by the organisers on the grounds that "The public were coming to see an exhibition and not go to the lavatory." (Just imagine Disneyland or a Theme park taking that attitude today and not providing any public loos!) The entrepreneur persisted and this was one of the most popular and lucrative features of the exhibition, with long queues at each WC, so much so that much was done to encourage the public to wait and not use the WC's closest to the entrances. It is interesting to compare the cost of using these WC's with wages of the day and the entrance fee of the exhibition. Using a WC cost one penny, while the entrance fee was one shilling or 12 pennies, about the daily wage of a labourer. To compare with Disney land, imagine paying 1/12 of the entrance fee to use the toilets there, that is about 50p or 1$ in today's money. From another aspect 1 penny would have bought the services of a street prostitute or been enough to have got drunk on. As it was reported that there were queues to use such facilities, imagine the embarrassment of an individual, desperate to pee, having to admit to their companions that they were in such a state of need that they were willing to be seen standing in a queue waiting to pee, in full view of all the visitors. When the popularity of the WC facilities was seen it was commented that it showed the great need for such facilities and level of public suffering caused by there not being any public lavatories.