Abandoned Victorian Public Toilets of London

Of all the great things to shoot in London, Agnese Sanvito chose one that most Londoners avoid unless they have to — public restrooms.


After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the regular construction of public toilets in big European cities was largely forgotten until they reappeared in their modern form in Paris, Berlin, and London in 1851. After the Second World War, many of these establishments were demolished, although their ruins may still be seen in and around London. 


Detecting them is a cinch. Londoners can relieve themselves without polluting the city by paying a few pennies to use the city’s underground facilities. Iron-work railings on the outside and steps to the basement are standard features. In Agnese Sanvito’s eyes, these are the restrooms.

According to Spitalfields Life, Agnese said they’re a part of the city’s fabric, but people ignore them since they aren’t in use.


In the beginning, Agnese tried to take pictures of them throughout the day, but the surrounding traffic and people constantly blocked her vision and distracted her. “Toilets at dawn” is how she came to refer to her early morning series of photographs of public restrooms.

Agnese said that at the time, she had just taken photos of people in her immediate vicinity, and she didn’t know where the project would go from here. These days, she gets phone calls from pals telling her, ‘I’ve found another one!’