Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

From the Seven Sisters and Finsbury Park Journal (a forerunner of the Hornsey Journal), 22 April, 1880

Views: 353

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Wonderful. I bet the working classes had no idea what it meant! 

Even the French called them Pissoirs!

It's little snippets such as this wot makes one smile.   Love it.

I think that if, in 1880, Hornsey had used the word toilet at all, it would have been connected with washing, especially face washing.  As in toilet table (one of those Victorian marble top tables with a mirror, jug, basin and perhaps toilet water).  By 1880, the modern contraption now known as a flush toilet had barely been invented and many houses would have had chamber pots and an outhouse/privy the waste from which would have been collected as "night soil" by the lowest order of dustmen.

What euphemisms people used in 1880 I don't know but I doubt whether any of them would have been both clear and suitable for what was being proposed by Alfred Watkins.

There is quite a lot of historical stuff around about the design of public toilets as things changed see:  https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/archive/collections/pho...

It is not so easy to find stuff about the language itself. The use of euphemism seems to be of very long standing.  After all, in a mediaeval monastery the lavatorium was where people washed and the necessarium was where they defecated.

When in 1970s I lived in a West Yorkshire village, old Jack Waggart (pig castrator and pub habitue), referred to the toilet as the turd pit.  Now that is not a euphemism but it may have harked back a bit to his youth.

What do we think Alfred Watkins should have said?  Any good ideas?

'House of easement' seems to have some history... and is close to the French translation.

Of course, socially embarrassing issues were often exported in translation or euphemism - 'French Letter'; 'Spanish Fly';  and 'English Overcoat' (from the French) and so on.

'Lavatory', indeed - you may wash [laver] your hands afterwards...

When I was a student (1977) I had a very posh landlady who had fallen on hard times and took in lodgers.  She must have been eighty at the time so born in the 19th century.  She winced if you said “lavatory”.  “Loo” or “reading room” were acceptable.  At the other end of the scale my paternal grandmother (also born in the 19th century) referred to it as the “cundy”.

Is 'netty' still used in the North-east, Michael?

I think so but I’m from Sunderland rather than Newcastle - ten miles apart but different languages.

" Cludgie " in Scotland :)



© 2023   Created by Hugh.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service