Exterior view
Google map
Wikimedia Commons

The West Pier Public Convenience, or Victorian Toilets, is a public toilet on the west pier of the harbour of Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, opened in 1900.[1]

The toilet was commissioned in 1899 by the Rothesay Harbour Trustees. Rothesay was at that time a major seaside resort in the Firth of Clyde, conveniently accessible by steam ship from the major conurbation of Glasgow. Excursions on the steamers were especially popular on Sundays, when the sale of alcohol was banned in Scotland, except on the paddle-steamers.[2][a]The origin of the phrase “steaming drunk”.[2]

A designated Category A listed buildingStructure of particular architectural and/or historic interest deserving of special protection., the toilet was originally built without a female lavatory, but during upgrading and restoration during the early 1990s an office/store at the north of the building was converted into a facility for females.[1]


The toilet was lavishly built to a rectangular floor plan, using high-quality materials to impress on visitors the wealth and status of the town.[3] It is constructed of coloured, glazed bricks arranged in rectangular patterns, with a slate roof.[1]

The building was designed by the Rothesay architect John Russell Thomson (1841–1910), and the brown glazed bricks of its exterior were supplied by James Craig & Co of Kilmarnock.[4]


Men’s urinals
Wikimedia Commons

Most of the ornate fittings were supplied by Twyfords, at a cost of £530.[2] There are twenty imitation marble urinals, six of them on a central island, fed by copper pipes from three marble glass-sided cisterns, four marble hand basins, and nine cubicles with lavatory pans.[1][b]The imitation marble effect was achieved by the use of transfer printing.[4]

The fittings in the female lavatory are late 20th century.[1]


Following the renovations that were completed in 1994, at a cost of about £300,000 financed by the Strathclyde Building Preservation Trust, the toilets were reopened by the architectural historian Lady Lucinda Lambton; she has described the toilets as “the most beautiful in the world”.[3]


a The origin of the phrase “steaming drunk”.[2]
b The imitation marble effect was achieved by the use of transfer printing.[4]