London Street underground convenience – the last surviving space in Dunedin

This men’s convenience was built shortly after the Octagon and Custom House Square (now known as The Exchange) undergrounds in 1910.  The 1909 Finance Committee ‘special fund’ for the underground conveniences allowed for a third, but simpler, underground in London Street to be built. This was outside the Albert Arms Hotel and was in a more prominent location – on the street corner of a busy intersection (and nowhere near a monument). It provided urinals only and opened in 1911.

London Street Underground plans, 1910

Mr A. Ferry won the contract to build the convenience and he had recently built the Custom House Square undergrounds as well. It cost £565 13s, compared with £1130 the larger Custom house Square facilities cost to build.

City Engineers Report, Volume 18, 1919, DCC Archives

The underground style of toilets became under utilised in the 1950’s as rest rooms became more popular and vandalism became frequent in the underground spaces. One gentleman told me at a recent talk that it was a popular spot for school boys to throw their cigarette butts in to dispose of them before the school would catch them!

Underground substation, London Street, 2018

The London Street underground space was reported as “disused and “had reached the end of its economic life’ in 1962. “The modern trend is to provide such facilities above ground” stated the Town Clerk at the time.

Underground substation, London Street, 2018

A new convenience was built for men in Frederick Street and the Sanitation Department offered the space to other council departments. The City Electrical Department took over the underground space for a substation. All the convenience features were removed. The space stills remains there today and was recently a Delta asset and is now run by Aurora Energy.

Special thanks to Phillip Luyten, Delta for the photos of the substation

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