Monday, November 28th, 2022

At your convenience… new toilets open but can you remember the old town loos?

SEVENOAKS public toilets have been slowly but surely disappearing from the town in recent years.

OLD MARKET HOUSE: The entrance to the ladies at the former town centre loos was through the door in the archway to the right and the gents was on the other side.

Those with long memories will recall when the attractive and historic Old Market House building between Bank Street and Dorset Street served as the main town loo complete with attendants and weighing machines. It was first converted to toilets in 1924 and is now is the home of Toni&Guy.

Then there was the ‘new’ toilet block close to the Waitrose Car Park entrance. But this was boarded up a few years ago, then knocked down to make a couple of extra parking spaces.

But in case you are caught short, there are toilets available in The Stag Theatre during opening hours.

Other public loos outside the town included those under the steps up to the old swimming pool on the corner of Eardley Road and Argyle Road – demolished to make way for Sevenoaks District Council offices – plus a tiny toilet building next to the parade of shops at the top of St John’s Hill.

DISAPPEARING ACT: A wire grate and some hording is all that marks the spot of the former toilets at the top of St Johns Hill.

When these closed down, somebody bought the plot and demolished the old loos hoping to get planning permission for a new property despite it only having a tiny footprint.

At the bottom of St John’s Hill, Sevenoaks Town Council has since taken over responsibility for the toilets just off the High Street in Bat & Ball to prevent them being closed and it also refurbished the public toilets on The Vine.

And it’s not only the town itself that is losing its public conveniences. Villages have also had to shut these facilities because of lack of funds.

With all these disappearing loos it is good news that Sevenoaks Town Council have opened new public toilets at Greatness Recreation Ground.

The facility was opened recently by Chairman of Open Spaces & Leisure Committee, Cllr Richard Parry.

Along with the new public toilet a new noticeboard has been installed giving information about events, meetings and emergency contact details to the public.

OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Pictured outside the new toilets are (l-r) architect Glenn Ball, Cllr Richard Parry, Cllr Rachel Parry and Cllr Simon Raikes.

Town Clerk, Linda Larter MBE said: “These facilities have been provided as a response to requests from local residents. The funding for the provision for these new facilities has come from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) which is paid by developers relating to their planning applications.”

 * The former swimming baths, under which the public toilets were situated on the corner of Eardley Road, were opened in July 1914 after being given to the town by Edward Kraftmeier who at the time lived in Ashgrove House (now West Heath School in Ashgrove Road, Sevenoaks).

LONG GONE: This was the site of the former public toilets on the corner of Eardley Road. We can find photos of inside the old swimming baths but none of the outside. Does anybody have one?

There was a stone put down close to the entrance door with an inscription that said the baths had been presented to the town by Edward Kay of Ashgrove in memory of Queen Victoria and King Edward V11.

It is believed Mr Kraftmeier did not use his Germanic sounding name as there was a growing anti-German feeling because of the threat of war – and it fact the First World War began at the end of the same month the baths were opened. Mr Kraftmeier, and his wife, left Ashgrove House, never to return.

But what happened to the stone? Does anybody know?

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