The Importance of Shrubbery

The very first locations for the underground conveniences were chosen because of their central position and that they were secluded. The key to having privacy and seclusion was obviously placing the facilities underground but above ground shrubbery played a large part in ‘hiding’ patrons from the public as they entered the facilities.

DCC Minutes – discussing options around further shrubbery if needed, 1909
A 1919 DCC City Engineers Report regarding the Comfort Station – Ladies Section – “draped in shrubs”. DCC City Engineers Correspondence 1918-28 Vol 18 Reports
DCC Minutes, reporting a rockery with shrubs now being erected in 1932

The local authority worked hard to supply the shrubs to create the secluded access ways into the facilities and the City Engineer was proud of the work around this – Manor Place urinal was described “an object of beauty – draped as it is in lovely native shrubs” in 1919.

Manor Place Station, City Engineers Report, 1919. DCC City Engineers Correspondence 1918-28 Vol 18 Reports.

Even in the 1940s, you can see the Octagon is largely grass and flowerbeds except for the side with the toilet entrances – these have shrubs.

1947 Calendar of Octagon featuring the Thomas Burns Memorial (which was demolished the next year) and the shrubbery behind this marking the entrances to the underground facilities.

Shurbbery was important to the ideal that these facilities were not obvious or seen – this attitude did change over the 20th Century.

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