Waverley Station's toilets must have Walter Scott spinning in his grave – Vladimir McTavish

What has happened to the toilets at Waverley Station?

Saturday, 16th October 2021, 12:30 pm
Walter Scott wouldn't be happy about the state of the station named after his novel Waverley (Picture: Scott Louden)

They used to be housed at the far end of the grand Victorian booking hall, and when you approached them you could take in the architectural splendour of one of Britain’s most impressive 19th-century railway terminals.

While communing with nature, you also felt you were connecting with history. Which in some cases you were.

We all remember what we were doing when we heard the news about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. I was going through the turnstiles at the Waverley gents at 2am on the last night of the 1997 Edinburgh Fringe, when the lavatory attendant passed on the news.

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This was, of course, in the days when the internet was in its infancy, BBC News 24 had yet to be launched and we received our news through more traditional channels. Anyway, it struck me at the time that 20 pence was a reasonable price to pay for being kept abreast of world events.

OK, that entry charge may have subsequently been hiked up to 30 pence, but that was a small price to pay to avoid having to use the loo during the actual train journey itself.

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Let’s face it, most people only use the on-train toilets when they are in the most dire need. Even before the pandemic, it was only the most foolhardy passenger who would actually touch the door handles of a ScotRail lavvy.

That is, of course, if said lavvy did not have an “out-of-order” sign on the door. Now we are all so paranoid about hand-washing, some people would doubtless hold it in all the way to Inverness, opting for an exploding bladder over a visit to the on-train karzy.

Anyway, back to Waverley. The Victorian grandeur of the booking hall has been replaced by a series of grotty makeshift portable buildings round the back of left luggage, which are about as appealing as the lavs at Glastonbury. It is not quite the same toilet experience. The old bogs may not have been state-of-the-art, but at least they were hygienic.

All of this in the only railway station to be named after a work of literature. Sir Walter Scott must be spinning in his grave. Or hiding in the toilet.

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