Hoist petition – don’t forget the loo!

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This is the bathroom in the last Premier Inn in Lincoln (above) that I stayed in last year. The design is the newest room module with a bathroom large enough for a portable hoist or over toilet chair. Most older modules have no hoist space.

The bedroom had two single beds and hoist space. Sounds great …. only some travelers would find it easier to not have to carry around / pack a large hoist or toilet chair.

The Ceiling Hoist User Club has a list of hotels in the UK with hoists but they are few and far between.

This Petition to Premier Inn and others is ten months old but the issues are still relevant and worth signing.

What about the toilet?

However, consideration would be needed because current module room layouts would generally not enable a ceiling hoist to access the toilet (and not all travellers want to, or can, take a toilet chair or commode).

If you need a hoist in the bedroom then you will need it in the bathroom too. 

Holiday Inn have some ceiling hoists over the bed … but not over the toilet. No use to people like me.

In the hotel entrance/restaurant or business meeting areas … guess what, no hoist over the loo.

I have MD and peer support events are held at these hotel chains … only I can’t go because of no hoist to use the toilet.

Other considerations 

In rooms,  profiling beds may be required for those who can not get into a hoist sling laying down. 

Access needs to be built in from the start to enable the most people to benefit. 

Isn’t it time for Premier Inn, Travel Lodge and Holiday Inn to develop new types of rooms and guest toilets, accessible to all and to higher access standards? 

Review: New Changing Places toilet map

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ToiletMap

Yesterday the new Changing Places Toilet Map came on-line at http://changingplaces.uktoiletmap.org so we thought we’d take a look and give a first impressions review.

What does the map offer?

I first viewed the new website on a desktop – but the mobile version is pretty much identical.

The layout is clean and simple – it does look rather good.

Visitors are offered 1 of three options.

  1. Find a Toilet
  2. Plan a Journey
  3. Create an account to save favourite locations and routes (or send them via e-mail to yourself).

Lets try option 1 – Find a Toilet.

Naturally I know all the CP toilets in my home county – so first I searched for ‘Kent’.

As I typed, options of places with the letters ‘kent’ popped up to select. I left it as ‘Kent’.

What is interesting is that depending on the Zoom setting in your browser, depends on what information you get.

For example, on Safari, the address/location listings read:

Zoom

I expected all the listing to be in Kent but areas around the border were coming up and many outside of Kent were listed below Zoom setting 3.

Zoom 3 showed up 10 Kent addresses alongside a Google map of all locations and appears to be the one which keeps the format of the site intact.

This was the map that I saw (Click on the beneath image to enlarge it).

ToiletMap

Toilet details

I clicked on the icon in Maidstone Town Centre – the location was accurate and on clicking again it brought me to a page with a detailed close up street level map, phone number, facility features, opening hours and additional information.

I could not find any picture of the toilet area / entrance or similar for this toilet. There is a feedback button which you can click and it shows you this form:

 

ToiletMapFeedback

 

I like the form – quite simple and clean looking. However the options to ‘save’ or ‘cancel’ were confusing. If ‘Save’ actually sends the form then this should be made more understandable  – and it’s not clear were the feedback goes.

Pressing the back button on my browser, I thought I’d get back to the map of the toilets in Kent but I was returned after 3 clicks backwards to the home search page which was frustrating.

However, going through the same pattern for other toilets did return me to the list of Kent toilets – so perhaps a bug in the system?

Whitstable has a Changing Places that opened in August his year (shown here in the local news) but this is currently not listed (maybe not registered yet?). Any CP toilet that is not registered does not go on the map.

Pictures: Looking at other toilets on the map, some had pictures but the thumbnails didn’t seem to enlarge at all on my browser.

Plan a Journey

This function is also called ‘Plan a route’. Personally I’d have kept the language the same throughout the site as a matter of good practice.

So, let me plan a journey to my hospital in Oxford as the Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust doesn’t have any place I can go to the toilet (no hoists/CP toilets).

First off, the route takes me pretty much the way we go, along the motorways.

It does indeed show me the toilets along the way – although each is a good hour detour and one would have me visiting the airport. This is not a map fault – just that there are are only around 2 CP toilets next to motorways at service stations in the whole of the UK.

Now, if I’ve been to the hospital and waited there for 4 hours and need the toilet – its a long drive to the nearest toilet: Buckinghamshire!!

 

ToiletMapOxford

 

The route system allows you to plan waypoint i.e. tell them you want to go via a certain town etc.

You need to check each toilet on route because depending on what time or day of the week that you travel, some toilets are only open certain times of the day or only on certain days.

It can also tell you walking and cycling routes. I found this rather funny considering this is me on a cycle and the distance you have to go to find a CP toilet in most parts of the UK would not be so pleasant for my husband!!

cycle

 

Other parts to the site

There is a Frequently Asked Questions section – not specific to the map but including things like how to install one, how much it costs, managing security and possible funding sources. The information is really good but not really aimed at ‘users’.

The front of the website shows you the current number of registered CP toilets – fingers crossed we see more and more every month.

Registration – extra functions.

Verified by e-mail, I registered my user name, e-mail address and signed up.

I clicked on the verification e-mail and logged in very quickly – took less than 10 seconds.

I could now save favourite toilets and routes and have details e-mailed over to me in seconds. My routes had a new ‘add route to favourites button’ and ‘e-mail info’ button.

Overall first impression

A much improved web site experience which is easy to use and clear to understand. Larger photos and a greater photo collection would be even better and perhaps users can enter extra information  to be added via the included form. Over time it would then get even better e.g. info such as the CP toilet in Dartford also serving the theatre (same venue building) but is accessed via a lift which needs to be working. I only know this because the day I went to the theatre the lift to the toilet block was out of order!!

So come on businesses – fill the map up with thousands more toilets because we really need them.

 

 

 

 

 

Not what it said on the tin

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Signage is part of a toilet being ‘accessible’. Regular readers will know that generally I don’t seem to be having the best of experiences at zoo’s lately! I came across a problem which, like my recent trip to Bluewater shopping mall, highlighted the barrier that is signage.

Here is a good example of how poor signage can turn a good day into a frustrating one.

I’ll start with Colchester Zoo in Essex.

I saw on their map they had an Adult Changing facility (with a wheelchair logo). This is what their website says: 

* All 13 sets of toilets around the zoo and at our cafes have disabled toilet facilities.

* An adult changing area for those with additional needs is provided at the toilet facilities near the meerkat enclosure. Please ask for a key at the Guest Services office or the nearby Meerkat Hangout cafe.

Whoopee – easy toilet access. The map didn’t indicate a key was needed so initially we found the toilet block and discovered it to be locked. To cut a long story short, we asked for the key, the key had been lost and another was brought over. 20 minutes later…

We opened the door expecting to see an adult changing table a toilet and a hoist. What we found was entirely different – a bed, a small sink and just enough space to go into forward and out backwards in a wheelchair.

child_changing

The definition of an adult suggests a person aged 18 or older – someone who, if they need a pad changing, is likely to need carers and a hoist to get onto the bed (and space etc).

This space is a step up from laying a child on the floor (where they are too heavy/long for a baby changing unit) but is really not suitable for changing adults. When staff said the room hadn’t been used that day – I can see why.

So we were left with the regular accessible toilet – which wasn’t accessible because the toilet was in the centre of the wall and with my chair at the side – no space to transfer or sit on the loo. Fail.

colchester_loo

Eventually we wandered around and found a toilet that was usable (I say usable, if you class a very steep ramp to the toilet area that I wasn’t happy going up even in a powered chair as ‘accessible’).  Inside the toilet was better – and thankfully we made it.

Bluewater 

Signage fail number two comes courtesy of Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent.  I knew they had a toilet with a hoist – but I couldn’t remember where. I looked at the maps and they all just had the generic wheelchair toilet symbol on. I was looking for the Changing Places symbol.

Eventually, after doing a lap of the lower floor, I resorted to asking management to tell me where it was – and we found it with a little label outside the toilet saying ‘HDU’ as in High Dependency Unit. I know some people prefer this term as opposed to ‘Changing Places’ (it is a registered CP toilet here) but it confused me.

I thought it was key operated (a sign mentions getting a key) but today the push button door opening switch was half working.

It wouldn’t let you in but once in, the internal button did close and auto lock the door. To gain entry you could force slide the door open (no handle of course!).

The problem was, inside there was no curtain, so I sat on the toilet, opposite the door, whilst my assistant went outside to give me some privacy – only we didn’t realise the door was so slow ….. the 40 seconds it took for the door to open and close felt like an hr.  Not the best experience!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share your experience tool kit – challenge discrimination

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Our new guides and ‘Experience form’ make up our new tool kit to challenge discrimination.

The tool kit is available for disabled people and their assistants / carers, to enable them to approach a company who has failed to provide accessible toilets that meets their needs.

My_Experience_form

It can be the start of a conversation to challenge discrimination and provide business with an opportunity to explain their approach to equality in the area of toilet access / sanitation / hygiene provision.

 


 

Step 1:

If you have had a bad experience, either download our form (or copy and paste the text into an e-mail).

The form (and a link to a text version to copy and paste) is available from: Links and resources page

Step 2: 

To fill out a pdf. form, use the ‘text’ and ‘highlight’ functions on your pdf viewer, save it and attach it to your e-mail.

  • Even easier is to create a new e-mail, and copy and past the text straight into it  from here.

 

Completing the form:

Once you have completed your basic details, go through the list of statements in the following 10 topics:

  1. Finding and entering the toilet area
  2. Entering / securing the toilet room
  3. Inside the toilet (space/colours/lighting/equipment)
  4. About the toilet / bench / hoist
  5. Sink
  6. Accessories (e.g. mirror/dryer etc)
  7. Horizontal support rails
  8. Vertical Support rails
  9. Emergency cord
  10. Other

simply deleting the ones that don’t apply – or highlighting the ones that do.

don’t forget to attach any pictures of the toilet you had difficulties using – this is important evidence.

Step 3 – Understanding the company response

The person may respond with a general statement like ‘… we do our best to make our venue accessible and will look into it’. In which case,

  • reply with a reminder to ask if they can let you know what they found out
  • ask about what they intend on doing and
  • when you might hear back from them.

Another type of reply might be something like ‘we have already complied with Document M and provide accessible toilets’. In this instance, you may want to read and supply the company with one or more of our guides, pointing out that meeting Document M guidelines does not mean they have met their duties as required by law within the Equality Act 2010 – and that the toilets did not meet your needs.

If you are unsure what these mean, our guides will also help you understand these standards and equality law.

Our guides to support you and the company include:

You can view the contents of these by clicking on the above links. They can all be downloaded from our links and resources page.

Step 4

If you are not happy with their reply you could consider continuing your discussion with them or you could consider sharing the communications with an advisor or legal expert to explore the option of taking legal action and the costs which might be involved.

Other options might be to contact your MP and explain the difficulties you have or consider a social media or local media campaign.

Remember, you have the right not to be discriminated against and treated differently when it comes to public toilet provision or as an employee who needs accessible toilets.

Guide 3 – Going beyond the minimum requirements

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Our third guide can be downloaded from: Links and resources page.

Beyond_standards

Going beyond the minimum requirements

Our 26 page guide looks at why going beyond the standards is often required to avoid discrimination, promote social inclusion and welcome all disabled employees, visitors, customers and volunteers.

We hope you will find the information useful if you:

  • Are passionate about improving the accessibility and usefulness of toilets for disabled people through campaigns and personal discussions.
  • Wish to raise discussions with a business concerning a difficulty you have had accessing or using provided toilets.
  • Are designing or submitting planning applications involving a new accessible toilet or altering existing ones.
  • Are responsible for the maintenance of sanitation facilities.
  • Are planning an event or function and assessing the sanitary needs of potential visitors.
  • Are a business, who provides toilets for disabled staff, visitors, customers and volunteers – and wishes to provide the highest possible standard of ‘away from home’ toilets.
  • Are committed to the welcoming provision of a truly accessible toilet to demonstrate your commitment to social inclusion and equality.

 

Contents

Current types of accessible toilets
Legal requirements
Be aware of ‘Compliant Doc M toilet packs’
Difficulties people have using accessible toilets
How AD M introduces barriers to using the toilet 
Toilet height
Support / grab / hold rails
Barriers relating to support rails
Privacy
Space considerations 
Space is needed to do a range of activities in the toilet.
Space requirements in the Building Regulations. 
People who are unable to stand or balance on a toilet.
Barriers to using the toilet, in the minimum provided space.
What research tells us about the size of wheelchairs.
Inadequate space to transfer from the side of the toilet.
Space needs of Carers / Assistants.
Turning circle space inadequacy
Baby Changing and Odour sensitivity.
Emergency cords tied up or not present.
Ensuring the toilet is available.
Assistance with hygiene.
Thank you to: 

 

Guide 2 – What makes a toilet accessible?

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Our second guide can be downloaded from: links and resources page.

What_makesWhat makes a toilet accessible? An introduction to the needs of disabled people and assistants/carers.

A 30 page guide providing a brief introduction into the facilities that should be provided in a public accessible toilet to ensure dignity, safety and equality of toilet and hygiene provision.

We hope you will find the information useful if you:

  • Are passionate about improving the accessibility and usefulness of toilets for disabled people.
  • Wish to raise discussions with a business concerning a difficulty you have had accessing or using provided toilets.
  • Are building a new toilet or upgrading your existing facilities.
  • Are responsible for the maintenance or cleaning of sanitation facilities.
  • Are designing or submitting planning applications involving a new accessible toilet or altering existing ones.

 

Contents

About this Guide
Contents
Toilet types and signage
Three types of toilet
Legal requirements
Disability Equality
Building Regulations and British Standards
Health and inclusion
What should I find in a new accessible toilet?
Unisex, individual accessible toilets.
Changing Places toilets using BS 8300 (2009)
Accessibility features
Door entry and locking
Lights and accessories
Toilet height and seat type
Washing / drying toilets
Other accessibility features
Examples of a stylish toilet that is not accessible
Sinks and their function
Use of toilet paper
Facilities for people with bladder and bowel disorders
Availability – an important part of accessibility
Provision for people to manage their bladder/bowel
People who have an ostomy
Using the toilet whilst standing, or sitting in a wheelchair.
People who use a hoist
Needs of Carers / Assistants
People with other needs
Privacy
Stigma
Thank you to…

 

*AD M = Approved Document M.  This is available from the official planning portal web-site [http://www.planningportal.gov.uk] for the most up to date information and documents.

Launching 3 exciting publications

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Today we launch the first of 3 new publications that you can download from our links/resources page

Legal_requirements

Guide to Accessible Toilet Standards and Equality Act Requirements.

This 17 page guide is to help raise awareness about the standards, guidelines and equality laws surrounding the provision of toilets for use by disabled people and their carers/assistants.

We hope you will find the information useful if you:

  • Are passionate about improving the accessibility and usefulness of toilets for disabled people through campaigns and personal discussions.
  • Wish to raise discussions with a business concerning a difficulty you have had accessing or using provided toilets.
  • Provide toilets for disabled staff, visitors, customers and volunteers – and wish to provide the highest possible standard of ‘away from home’ toilets.
  • Are committed to the welcoming provision of a truly accessible toilet to demonstrate your commitment to social inclusion and equality.

 

Content

British Standards and AD M 
When do AD M requirements apply?
What if a new toilet does not follow these standards?
Types of accessible toilets 
Equality of toilet provision – what the law says. 
Be aware of ‘compliant’ suppliers
The duty to make reasonable adjustment and AD M
Do I have to follow the solutions in AD M?
Employment law
Human rights
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Making adjustments 
What reasonable adjustments might include.
Auxiliary aids or services
Attracting customers and improving community inclusion
Facilities on request.
Thank you to:

*AD M = Approved Document M.  This is available from the official planning portal web-site [http://www.planningportal.gov.uk] for the most up to date information and documents.

An open letter to West Midland Safari and Leisure Park

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Dear West Midland Safari and Leisure Park,

This week I visited your park with my husband and parents to do the walk round section. We were first time visitors on holiday from Kent and had an amazing afternoon.  I especially loved the dinosaur exhibit – just spectacular.


The access was really good for me as I have muscular dystrophy and use a powered wheelchair.

We are huge fans of zoos, conservation programmes and dinosaurs!! This was the perfect attraction for us.

Tickets are such good value and we made use of your visit again for free – super value as our ticket price already included a discount for disabled people and one free carer – greatly appreciated.

Because we were only there for the afternoon, I did not need to use the toilet. However, on our second day, during the hottest week of the year and after a 2 hr safari, it was time for the loo before we left.

This is where the day had a horrible and distressing end.

No toilet provision

To understand my distress I am willing to share with you the following details in the hopes that we can discuss solutions to ensure other disabled visitors have a better and more dignified experience.

My experience

The park was 30 minutes from closing. It takes me 20 minutes for my husband to physically lift me out of my chair and drag me to the toilet and back again.

I can not stand and have little use of my arms and hands.  At home my personal assistants/carers use a ceiling hoist to lift me from my chair to the toilet.  This is not painful and gives me greater dignity. Outside of the house my husband has to wipe the public toilet floor and drag me bare foot (to avoid friction) from my chair, lean me over a grab rail (I have little upper body balance) and then afterwards try to wipe me whilst seated. As you can imagine, it is difficult at the best of times.

It is not unusual for wheelchair users to be unable to stand, use their arms to push/transfer themselves or balance when on a toilet seat.  Many disabled people who can walk also have difficulty with balance and need a full compliment of grab rails and space etc to help them.

First attempt

First we tried the toilets in the carpark. On opening the door we saw there was no horizontal grab rail on the right hand side and very little space . I can only lean to the right due to scoliosis (and can only sit propped up on a grab rail) – so this meant the toilet was out of bounds for us. I would have fallen onto the floor.

Second attempt

Having a bit of a panic, we hurried some distance into the park to the next toilets by the reptile house.

We opened the door – same problem. No grab rail on the right hand side.

Third attempt 

The park was closing. We crossed over the path to try the restaurant – surely a toilet we could use. No. It was here I had one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever had.


The first problem was the toilet seat. A flat seat with narrow aperture ( similar to a child’s seat). It was agony.  Most accessible toilet seats are wide aperture, gently curved to cup the adult pelvis. This is to provide upper body stability and a space for the nerves and pelvic bones to be ‘in the hole’. I am a small adult but the seat caused pelvic and nerve pain  making it impossible to ‘go’ properly.

Secondly, the grab rail was a none standard height from the ground and a short length.  To hold/lean on it caused me to reach backwards as it only extended out to my waist and was so low I could fall over the top of it.  This was very dangerous but we had run out of options.  Incidentally there is no reachable horizontal bar on the left that is reachable.

Thirdly, there was no room for wiping /cleansing before sitting back in my chair.

It was very distressing and degrading.

Lastly as a point to note, no emergency cords in any of the toilets that I noticed and paper towels that can’t be reached from a wheelchair.

Solutions

Some of these problems are probably easy to quickly fix – installing horizontal grab rails of the standard height, length and distance on the left and right side of each toilet. Also changing the toilet seats.

For full access, there is opportunity to perhaps consider what other zoo/safari parks have done and install a Changing Places toilet. I have enclosed some photographs of their great facilities at the end of this letter.

These have space for power wheelchair users, carers, hoist and changing bench for those who wear pads. They are more dignified, hygienic, safe and comfortable. Here is an example below.

  [JD Weatherspoons, Blackpool Promenade ‘The Velvet Coaster’ became the first pub to offer customers and staff Changing Places facilities in April 2015]

Without my husband being present to lift me, I am one of around an estimated 230,000 people who can only visit venues with a Changing Places toilet. I am also unable to use your current facilities even with my husband making visits restricted to the length of time I can cross my legs.

I suspect many visitors have a similar problems or simply can’t visit because of inadequate toilet facilities – but don’t complain because of the stigma and embarrassment of explaining intimate personal problems.

I have shared my experience in the hope that this will raise awareness of how it is possible to extend your facilities to welcome thousands of new visitors and their families.

Kind Regards

Louise Watch, Kent

* 2.5 million was spent on their new Living Dinosaur attraction but no priority funding given to improving toilet facilities?

UPDATE: August 2018. Changing Places opened. (Right hand support rail pending). Currently not on their website/map.

[Source: Facebook]


The back stage tour at the 02 – aka where is the loo

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On Thursday we went to the O2 Arena in London for the first time to see a concert. All we knew was that doors opened at 6.30 so we arrived extra early to go for a meal.

The dome has eating venues inside it, which circle the central arena (which also has it’s own food hall for event ticket holders).

The plan was to use the Changing Places (CP) toilet. Whilst the location of the loo is given (both on the 02 and CP website), it became meaningless as it said Block 106 Level 1. We couldn’t find ‘blocks’ mentioned on the maps inside the venue or where this was in relation to our accessible seating in the actual arena.

We also didn’t realise that the loo is just for the Arena (and not for the cinema or restaurants within the dome, but outside of the central arena).  This means it’s only really available from door opening times if you have event tickets and request an access key card.

As the doors were closed we asked a few people who seemed to be ‘sign-posters’ and they didn’t know what a CP toilet was and tried to send us to the cinema accessible toilet area. Eventually, we found a desk of some sorts tucked back out of view to the left of the arena doors.  The person did say they were on level one and that we would be shown up to it because people weren’t allowed in yet and their was security about every 20 metres.  So we waited about 10 minutes for our security escort.

Then we went on a backstage tour with our guide … to a standard loo. We explained we wanted the CP one and the guy said oh the ones on level 1 – follow me. *sigh

So we had to do the backstage tour in reverse, into a staff lift, and up to level 1. Entry to the loo was by key card and the security guy loitered in the lobby to escort us back down.

The toilet was slightly bigger than the regular accessible toilets – but one of the smallest CP toilets we have used,  There was  only just enough room to place my chair to the side of the toilet for a transfer (we were using manual not hoist transfers that night). So, it was a little disappointing on space available for my particular needs.

There is also a speaker system in the loo for public and staff announcements and they pipe music in which makes it hard to communicate with assistants during the moves/lifts etc.

The toilet is a regular one (no bidet / auto cleaning)

However, it was much better than the none CP one we glimpsed on the way in.

We then had to be escorted down in the public lift to the entrance to have our tickets scanned (doors were now open). We had now done a full loop which had taken 40 minutes of walking time all in all.

We then did the back stage tour again – this time to get to our accessible seating on the ground floor. We had a good view – but would have needed a full escort again to take the staff lift to level 1 if we needed the loo again. That is exactly what we had to do at the end of the evening.  We had done so many laps of the back corridors that security staff now greeted us with a ‘hello again’.

All in all, regarding toilet facilities, it is great they have CP facilities but a shame they are not easily accessible from outside the central Arena, and are not easily and quickly accessible from the ground floor accessible arena seating.

Now that we know what to expect, we won’t go so early next time, so that we can time the loo for door opening times.

Is this the scariest accessible toilet in the UK?

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IMG_3248At the end of September we took a trip to Bath and Bristol and had a great afternoon at Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol. This beautiful place is still used as a cemetery the first person being buried here in 1839.

Unlike modern ‘in a row’ cemeteries, it was designed as a landscaped garden and woodland where you could choose your spot. Today work continues to undergo restoration. There are a number of grade 2 listed Mortuary Chapels and Monuments, war graves and plots of notable people – the inscriptions add to the beauty and interest.

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As a heritage site and final place of remembrance of over 300,000 people, the wooded 45 acre site is also a haven for 450 species of wildlife …. and home to possibly the scariest accessible toilet in the UK.

The toilets under the cafe …

So we had a lovely sunny day wandering around, a snack at the very modern cafe and then it was time for the loo.

You take the lift down underground and on exiting you see signs saying that if you might be affected by the location and content of death and cremation – then maybe take a trip back up to the surface.

This area is the crematorium basement of the Non Conformist Chapel . Peek around the corner and you can enjoy viewing the newly-renovated building and star attractions – a 1920’s cremation furnace, catafalque coffin lift and cremulator – the machine that crushes bones into ashes for disposal – just a short way from where they were actually used.

crem

Up to 30 people were cremated every day in its hey-day. So if dead people (past and present) are not your thing, then these toilets are not for you.

Plunged into darkness.

The toilets are modern and very large in a cold crypt area around the corner from the bone pulverisers. This is not for the faint hearted.

loo

So I’m sitting on the loo, in a crematorium basement, feet away from the recent dead and bone crunching machines of the past – when the lights go out.

Blasted things were on a timer – and disabled people need longer than a few minutes to transfer to and from wheelchairs etc and do what they’ve got to do.

Dead people don’t bother me – it’s the living ones that are the problem. I’m not bothered neither about the dark, so apart from being cold, it was actually quite a good loo and you could even have got a portable hoist in there easily.