Are there any outside lavatories left in Huddersfield?
The question for #AskExaminer has been posed by a reader who wonders what happened to the humble Yorkshire privy.
In recent years many of these stone-built outdoor loos have been demolished but there are many examples in back gardens and yards across Huddersfield, including in Honley, Paddock, Edgerton and Milnsbridge – in fact most places with an older stock of houses.
According to Len Markham, author of Yorkshire Privies, old privies could be found in Kirkheaton; off Woodhead Road, Holmfirth and at Newsome Road, Newsome.
Many family members in Yorkshire would sit down together, using two-holer privies and even four-holers.
Older residents of Huddersfield will, of course, remember using outside lavatories. And those memories are not always good ones.
Ann Robinson, 69, of Slaithwaite, used an outside loo while living at 94 Gledholt Bank in the 1950s and 1960s.
She recalls using old newspapers for toilet paper and sitting in complete darkness as the loo didn’t have a light.
“I remember it was cold and dark and it was used by seven family members. The hygiene was awful because we had no hot water and didn’t wash our hands.
“You had to keep your foot on the door to keep it closed.”
Ann says the outside loo at Gledholt Bank continued to be used until about 1980 when an inside toilet was finally fitted.
Her sister Maureen Mallinson, 65, who knew the outside loo as the “back hole”, said: “When you flushed the toilet, water came out of the cistern above and splashed your head, so you had to get out quick. I never remember using any proper toilet roll.”
Sylvia Gill, who lived in Moldgreen between 1970 and 1984, said: “We shared ours with the next door neighbour and I remember that they always froze in winter. The water cylinder was above and when you pulled the chain you would often get a shower as well.”
Contributors to Yorkshire Privies recalled memories from their childhood.
TM Morris said: “As a lad in Huddersfield I played a dangerous game. On cold mornings I’d drop paper down the hole and set fire to it. It was a real treat provided your watched the flames.”
And TB Peacock, of Pudsey, said: “In the early 20s my parents had very little money and so they shared a pair of dentures.
“Dad dropped them down the hole and had to rinse them off. Mother insisted on her own set after that. They’re peculiar about such things are women.”
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