Thursday 30 October 2014

Stairway to heaven

The other week I called in to the Ship at Styal, an attractive Cheshire country pub that has recently been refurbished by multiple operators Kalton & Barlow after having become rather tired under pub company ownership. It’s been smartly done up in gastro-style, and I had quite a reasonable pint of Timothy Taylor’s Boltmaker. However, one thing I noticed is that the toilets had been moved upstairs to make more room on the ground floor.

This is a familiar feature of Wetherspoons, but more recently it’s been spreading to other pubs as well. I wrote recently how pubs seemed to be increasingly turning a cold shoulder to older drinkers and, while Spoons do seem to be popular with the grey market, this is something that is far from ideal for them. There are many elderly people who are not disabled as such, but would struggle with long flights of stairs, especially if their bladder capacity is not what it was. I’ve heard it said of some Spoons that “it’s so far to the bogs, once you’ve been and come back you want to go again.”

In some Spoons I’ve seen people who struggle a bit to walk using the disabled toilet, often with the tacit approval of the staff, but to feel forced to do so involves something of a loss of dignity. So maybe, with an increasingly ageing population, this is one example of how pubs could to take the concept of being pensioner-friendly seriously.

Incidentally, I’ve never come across upstairs or basement toilets in any of the new Greene King and Marston’s dining pubs, which suggests they have a keen eye on where much of their trade comes from.


  1. The least weird one out of Croak and Staley30 October 2014 at 12:55

    Loss of dignity? There is no loss of dignity using the raspberries shitter. Just because I'm a lazy bugger. I always have a dump in there, despite being as fit as a butchers dog. Last time I left one, a man in a wheelchair waiting outside the bogs glared at me, so I fired back a "I'd give that ten minutes if I were you, pal" before heading back to the bar, waving my 50p real ale twat token, for a heavenly pint of bang per buck.

    I am glad I am using the raspberries shitter and helping remove stigma and normalize the use to create a more equal and respectful world.

  2. Are you suggesting that Wetherspoon's pubs are more likely to have upstairs or downstairs toilets than those of other pub chains? Have you carried out a full, in-depth, peer-reviewed survey of all pubs in the UK? I thought not. You strike me as one of the ignorami.

  3. Almost every Wetherspoons pub I've been to has upstairs or downstairs toilets, but quite a good number of Birmingham pubs have upstairs loos. Two of the three pubs (all Ember Inns) that I present my quizzes in have upstairs toilets!

    Many years ago, in a pub at the base of the Rotunda (not there any more) I went up the stairs to the Gents and there was another flight up leading to the CELLAR!

  4. Just provide a free commode at every table.

  5. I believe in the days of the "six o'clock swill" some Australian pubs had long bar counters where the customer-facing side was a urinal trough.

  6. Old people spend nowt. 3 hours nursing half a mild. Families with kids? That's drinks and dinners all round and freeing up the table for another set after ice creams.

    I know who'd I'd cater for and it's not smelly old codgers with Daily Mails popping in because they are too tight to put their own central heating on.

  7. I've seen a number of Spoons pubs leave their disabled toilets unlocked with discretionary use by the less mobile guests. I suspect this works well nearly all of the time.

    By the time the pub gets busy at night most will have moved off home.

    In busy commercial centres floor space is at a premium and ultimately it's the punters that will have to pay for the reduced floor space.

    Also, I do find that upstairs toilets keep noise, odours and traffic away from drinking and dining areas, so there is a benefit. If the de facto use of the disabled loo is allowed, then I think it's a non issue.

  8. I think you have highlighted a massive none problem. The wethertramps often have old men pissing, shitting, having a stroke, heart attack or even dying but I have never heard these people complain about the walk to the toilets.

  9. Any true Englishman 0ver 50 who still frequents pubs need not worry where to empty his bladder,
    he ought to seek attention to his
    raison d'etre.
    As for the under 50s, well ,what can we say "Non Gradus Anus Rodentum" would seem appropiate

    Look back in anger

  10. Is 'raison d'etre' a super new imperial sour stout with extra IBU, is it in cask or keg? Bars that is not storage vessels.

  11. Martin, Cambridge30 October 2014 at 21:52

    Most of the Wetherspoons I've been in have upstairs toilets as you say; I've no idea if this reflects the logistics of the building or just aesthetics. Not noticed it as an issue though.

  12. Professor Pie-Tin31 October 2014 at 05:58

    Don't get me started on bidets ...

  13. Oliver
    Whats IBU ? Hopefully not one of those "froth blowers "initiation
    pass words.

    PS My local Spoons has downstair bogs,just as well ,the regulars
    struggle moving sidewards let alone upwards
    Nothing special put on for Haloween,no need ,every night has
    a cryptish ambience.

  14. Anon / I dunno I heard the big boys saying it in brew dog and I was trying to be kewl


Comments, especially on older posts, may require prior approval by the blog owner. See here for details of my comment policy.

Please register an account to comment. Unregistered comments will generally be rejected unless I recognise the author. If you want to comment using an unregistered ID, you will need to tell me something about yourself.