The Brighton I grew up in had plenty of public toilets, if you dared to enter them. The worst was and presumably still is underneath the clocktower by the inappropriately named Churchill Square. It was covered in intimidating graffiti, stank like the Devil’s own cesspit, had no natural light and, frankly, felt more like a descent into hell rather than just the subterranean shit hole it actually was. It was closed long before the internet got going properly, so I haven’t been able to find any pictures of it. Probably just as well. Last time I posted pictures even half-way that disgusting, I received complaints.
Although that particular public inconvenience was especially unwelcoming, there were plenty of other examples like it. Hardly surprising really, they were maintained by a Conservative Party administration in the town, which felt like it didn’t need to do anything for the public. For 154 years they were right about that, until Labour took away their majority on the local council. When Labour came to power in Brighton (three years later) one of the first things they did was waste money on changing all the signs on the “Ladies” to “Women”, in the name of combating sexism. The toilets improved though, so full credit to them for that.
I moved away for a few years and was startled to find, on my return, that many of these places had been converted into cafes, flower shops and the like. With the rank scenes of yesteryear imprinted on my mind, I could never bring myself to eat in any of them, though I did once buy some flowers in one.
These days, there are plenty of public toilets in Brighton & Hove. Here’s a map of them:
A cursory glance at this map reveals that there are more than enough public toilets in the city. Add to that the huge number of pubs, bars, restaurents and cafes with toilets that the public can also use and one is left with the impression that there could never be a reason to piss outdoors in the city. However, that reckoning doesn’t allow for people caught short, whether it is because they have misjudged their bladder control, they have had too much to drink or simply have worn out their bodily functions by living so long.
Urinating outdoors in urban areas is not a pleasant subject but we’ve all done it. The law is a little unclear. Certainly, waving your wanger around in public violates the law and is likely to attract a criminal record for a sexual offence. There’s a longstanding urban myth that a pregnant woman can relieve herself anywhere, so long as she uses a policeman’s helmet ~ this was never the law. Generally speaking, there is no specific criminal offence for peeing in public but various localities have bye-laws against it. Brighton & Hove doesn’t seem to have such a bye-law. Many people believe that it is legal for a man to urinate in public, as long it is against the rear offside wheel of his motor vehicle and his right hand is on the vehicle. This is not the law and never was, it is folklore.
However, there are various places around the city where people do piss in public, apparently believing that they can get away with it. Here’s the top ten unofficial public toilets in Brighton and Hove. Please note, I am not advocating using any of these places. If you really must go and can’t get to an official proper toilet in time, please find a public park and pee behind a tree or into a hedge there. There’s plenty of public parks around the city. On with the list, in reverse order of severity!
10. St Peter’s Church
In centuries past, criminals could escape the long arm of the law by putting a hand on a church door. These days, troublemakers only reach out to touch the holy wood to steady themselves whilst aiming their penises at the sacred aperture. St Peter’s Church stands proud in the heart of Brighton and, as such, is a convenient place to answer the call of a more earthly need. This is also the home of the Alpha Course, which reportedly uses somewhat underhand techniques to recruit people to the Christian faith. At least, it would do, if anyone attending the course wasn’t already in the flock. If you do choose to let go here, remember God can see everything. Apparently. Dirty old bastard.
9. Freemasons Lodge
This male dominated, secretive networking organisation has had a long and controversial history. There are currently 48 Masonic Lodges in Brighton alone (but none in Hove, oddly). Their headquarters in Queen’s Road, Brighton is a popular piss pot for late night pedestrians who prefer to spoil the sheltered entrance to the nearby church gardens. Whilst in recent years the freemasons have attempted to rebrand themselves, the public still holds them in utter contempt. Questions have always been asked about their relationship with political power here in Brighton. One notable member, Andy Durr, joined them to obtain access to their libraries, because he was researching the early history of friendly societies. Soon after, he became the Mayor of Brighton. Back then, many people were surprised that a Labour Party member would be allowed to be in the freemasons, let alone elevated to such giddy heights. The late night piss artist isn’t troubled by such political considerations but can nevertheless find much comfort in their grand entrance.
8. Brighton & Hove Conservative Party Headquarters
This is another doorway set back from the road by a reset porch. It’s deep into Hove and is apparently used by poorly politically motivated people who wander along Church Road late at night. No-one will be surprised to see the thieving Tory bastards using an office above an estate agents. If you must pee around here, there are much more suitable places but at least this is better than using the grounds around the local town hall. Decent people work there! Always remember that if you are identified creating a nuisance on private land, the landowner can sue you in the civil courts and these people have plenty of money to be litigious with.
7. First Church of Christian Scientist
This beautiful building at the bottom of Montpelier Road, Brighton, was originally built as a grand town house and became the headquarters of this odd Christian sect in the 1920s. Christian Scientists have moderated their beliefs in recent years, to prevent their children dying from want of medical treatments. Their creed is a mixture of Christianity and other more modern forms of mumbo-jumbo. Essentially, they believe that sickness is an illusion along with the rest of the material world. Presumably, they don’t recognise the aroma of processed lager around their delightful and easily accessible front basement either.
6. The courtyard around the Jubilee Library
The photograph above shows the back end of the courtyard around the Jubilee Library. It’s a popular place to wander through, day and night. In the day it is awash with tourists, in the night with piss. The library cost £11,900,000 to build but it was constructed under that darling economic initiative of New Labour, the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The consequence of that is that the builders will continue to receive £2,000,000 per year for 18 years after the library was finished. If ever there was an example of bad financial planning, this is it. The good folk of Brighton got an excellent library, sure, but it will cost them four times what it was supposed to. Once PFIs came into being, major construction firms knew they could hold public authorities to ransom unless they agreed to these nefarious deals. As an unofficial public toilet, this at least provides plenty of choice and some nice shiny windows to splash off. Although the late night punters might enjoy the feeling of urinating in some glorious private property (which it is, until the money has been paid off), urinating here is spectacularly lazy, when there is a park nearby and plenty of public toilets.
5. Anywhere near Churchill Square
Churchill Square is the heart of Brighton’s mainstream retail area. It is neither a square nor, in any way, connected with the great man. The arrow points to the most popular place to piss in the middle of the night. Properly speaking, this isn’t actually by Churchill Square but below some steps which lead up to it. The rumour is that the local seagulls like to drink from the pools of piss which collect here.
4. Crown Prosecution Service and Brighton Employment Tribunal car park
This car park can be accessed from the Dyke Road, just North of Seven Dials. It provides those unable to carry their bladder any further with a place to pee in privacy, so long as they don’t mind officials from the Crown Prosecution Service watching their golden showers afterwards, on CCTV footage.
3. On The Side Of The Grand Hotel
Considering that the beach is just over the road, doing your toilet here is outstandingly lazy. The preferred spot seems to be just behind where the blurry chap is checking his mobile phone. Depending on which way the wind is blowing and your sense of timing, this can make for a quiet corner. Watch out though, the residents are fabulously wealthy and employ people unlikely to take kindly to your personal needs.
2. Main Entrance of Brighton College
Brighton College is a private school for the sons and daughters of the wealthy. The main entrance fronts onto Edward Street and seems to be covered by a CCTV camera. There’s a little tarmacked area between the wooden doors and the publicly maintained pavement, which is frequently used by late night revellers. Quite what the rich kids think whenever they step out the front and inhale the stench of urine, I do not know. Perhaps their parents effectively pay for a cleaner to wash it all away every morning? That would be a nice irony: the piss protest of the drunken proletariat creating jobs.
1. Outside The Police Station in John Street
Much as though I’d like to claim the name of the road attracts those in need of relief, clearly the main draw is the chance of cocking a snoop at the authorities. The most daring place is directly outside or against the front door of the police station. We’ve all seen it done, right? This is a exceptionally risky location because most of those men who end up with a record for a sex crime after a public piss got into trouble because they did so directly in front of a police officer. Since the police station is permanently staffed and plod can see out of his own window, aiming your spent beer onto this ‘target’ is culpably stupid. You’d think you’d be bound to get caught, right? Except that plenty of people get away with it, if local brags are to believed. Whilst researching this post, I heard of only one person who had been arrested for performing the watery act here and only on the third occasion he had done so.