The Loovre – Berwick-upon-Tweed, England - Gastro Obscura

Berwick-upon-Tweed, England

The Loovre

One of the few surviving examples of Victorian-era public toilets now houses a coffee bar. 

In the late 19th century, Berwick’s industries were booming. While the town was flush with fish, coal, and money, it lacked one thing: public toilets. Specifically, women’s public toilets.

There was a noticeable disparity between the sexes strolling about town; men had the convenience of not only using the preexisting public urinals, but also any corner or alleyway they came across. Women had no choice but to hold it in and hope for the best.

It wouldn’t do to have the residents of such a prosperous town walking about in discomfort: A public toilet was to be built immediately! But this would be no ordinary toilet. The women of Berwick deserved to relieve themselves in style, and so a beautiful cottage-like structure was built, with a rustic gabled roof and ivy creeping up its decorative woodwork frame. Inside were three toilets and a sink; the walls were white glazed and the floor was laid with patterned Minton tiles.

The Bankhill Ladies Toilet opened in 1899 and for the price of one penny, women no longer had to suffer during afternoon strolls. On its opening day, the new toilet took in the equivalent of about £26.

By 2014, the Bankhill Toilet had long been out of use and was in disrepair. The Berwick Preservation Trust was able to acquire the building and managed to save many of the original features. After its renovation, the Bankhill Toilet was used by the parks department before being turned into an ice cream parlor, which it remained as for several years. It was during this incarnation that the Bankhill Toilet acquired its famous name, the Loovre, after the locally-made artwork that the parlor’s owner would hang up on the walls.

Today, the Loovre is home to Northern Edge Coffee Bar, a locally-owned specialty coffee roaster.

Know Before You Go

In summer, The Loovre is open everyday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. In winter, it is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 10:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. Northern Edge sells coffee to sit-in or take-away, as well as an ever-changing array of locally-made baked goods.

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