Royal relief

Gentlemen's lavatory, King William III statue, Market Place, Old Town, Hull

Gentlemen’s lavatory, King William III statue, Market Place, Old Town, Hull

Queen Mary’s advice to her eldest son was (reputedly) – “Take every opportunity to take the weight off your feet and to relieve yourself.”

It’s widely known in Hull that if you seek relief in the city centre it’s a good idea to head for a royal statue.

There are two, and they’re very fine indeed – one beneath the fine Scheemakers statue of King William III (1734) on the Market Place and the other beneath the H C Fehr’s 1903 monument to Queen Victoria in Queen Victoria Square.

Both are listed Grade II.  The King William III gents was designed by the City Engineer, W H Lucas, at a time when such creations were a matter of pride.  It has fittings by Finch & Co of Lambeth dating from c1900, including marble-and-glass cisterns, faience Ionic columns and original doors with leaded lights.  The Queen Victoria lavatories are later than the statue, dating from c1925 when the Ferens Art Gallery was under construction:  again the gents has its original earthenware fittings.

There’s an account of the local pride in these magnificent facilities, told by the people who care for them, at

The Hull historian, Paul Gibson, includes in his website a lengthy account of the history of Hull’s public lavatories:

The 80-page, A4 handbook for the 2016 ‘Humber Heritage’ tour, with text, photographs, maps and a reading list, is available for purchase, price £10.00 including postage and packing.  To order a copy, please click here or, if you prefer, send a cheque, payable to Mike Higginbottom, to 63 Vivian Road, Sheffield, S5 6WJ.

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