Finding Peckham’s Lost Lavatories

In recent years there has been a strong local campaign for a decent provision of public lavatories in Peckham Town centre.

We think that there are lost lavatories at the junction of Rye Lane and The Peckham High Street (Peckham’s village core). A look at maps and historic photographs suggest that a substantial subterranean public lavatory was built around 1900 and was used by the community until about 1955. Photographs show the entrance to lavatories with tall decorative wrought iron railings and flights of steps, north and south, to what must have been substantial, tiled, subterranean Sanitary Courts.

1905 outside Jones & HigginsHere they are in 1905, just outside Jones & Higgins, when Peckham was in its heyday.

1930 Peckham's Public LavatoriesHere are the lavatories as they stood in 1930, next to the tram.

1955 Peckham's Public LavatoriesLastly, here they are in 1955 (note the damage to the department store after the war).

Could these interiors be intact? With the original Edwardian sanitary ware? Under a 1950s concrete slab? We think it is unlikely that this facility was ‘filled in’.

Below is a composite of ordinance surveys from 1914 and 2014, showing the location of the lavatories in relation to the street now. We wonder if the pressure for public toilets in Peckham could be relieved by the re-discovery and restoration of this ‘lost’ facility.

1914 and 2014 Ordinance Survey CompositeLocal architect Benedict O’Looney and Mark Saunders of Spectacle


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