Camden subterranean public toilets; the grimy land that time forgot

What happens when a person, possibly me, wakes up with a migraine, takes a whole bunch of meds, eats too many cookies then tries to write a clever, witty blog post?

Well lets see shall we. Please forgive any spelling or grammatical inaccuracies.

Camden. I spent a whole lot of hours there the last time I lived in London. The crust punks advertising pizza with plastic signs by the tube, the random dudes hiss-whispering ‘weeeeeeeeddddd?’ at you as you walk past, and the drunk girls in 6 inch heels pissing in the gutter at 3 am, mini-skirt’s around their belly button and make-up gone all awry, it was my local and I loved it’s grimy back passages. I got to enjoy Camden before Amy Winehouse died, before too much of the regeneration wiped away the eccentric, sickly fun of the place.

Camden High street public toilets, external

I’m a big fan of the subterranean public toilet, and unlike Auckland, London still has a variety of the classic old underground wee stations to rate and enjoy. I have a vivid memory from the last time I lived in London, making a panicked dash out of the tube, when I was on my way to work, and straight into this toilet. I think in a panic I went to the men’s first, which is located under a different traffic island outside Camden tube station.

Camden public toilet, sign external

Turns out panic memories are a bit like fever dreams, you never totally forget them.

Camden public toilet, stair way down, external

Camden public toilets are like the old Camden, a bit gross but filled with personality and history.

Camden public toilet, stair way up, external

I’m guessing the next time I come to London, this toilet will no longer exist. It will have been replaced by a hipster flat or a coffee shop, but for now we can all soak in the grime and enjoy this bit of the suburb just as it has been for years.

Camden public toilet, internal

Mmmm grotty.

There is actually still an attendant who works in this bathroom but I have never seen her leave her one-way-mirrored box to do any cleaning or assist a patron.  She’s more likely to come out and stab you with a pre-sharpened toothbrush handle than offer you a spritz of cheap perfume and a lollipop.

Camden public toilet, internal

This place is always dirty, covered in rubbish and the services which are available are in a pretty shabby state, yet somehow I still really like this loo. I guess it’s because of my memories of Camden town, so many nights out in a blur of gin and kebabs and broken shoes, I’m a bit bias. But I also like it because it still service its purpose. It is still used by the millions of people who surge up and down the Camden high street everyday like the salty mass of used tissues and debris that they are. The tourists, the punks, the junkies and the art students all lurching along like a brown slug, like the Thames it’s self.

Camden public toilet, internal, cubical

Camden public toilet, internal, cubical

Padlocks on everything. I’m guessing it’s because people had originally used the cisterns to hide things? Perhaps to undertake drug deals or the movement of other illicit stock.

Camden public toilet, internal, cubical

Camden public toilet, internal, cubical

And a bit of horrifying anti-vivisection graffiti to finish up on.


Cleanliness : 3/10  Pretty much terrible. It always smells damp, even on a sunny day and not an inch of this place has been properly cleaned within my lifetime.

Internal : 5/10  The cubicles are plentiful so there is never any waiting, the green is nice and the tiles are still attached to the walls mostly, so that’s something.

External : 8/10  It’s very close to the tube station which means that if you’re like me and having a panic attack on the tube, this is close enough to run and hide in. Be careful of the traffic though, the cars at that intersections stop for no man.

Safety : 4/10  If you were getting robbed or stabbed I’m pretty sure they attendant would sooner stand there and laugh than actually help you but luckily most of the time Camden is a very busy place so there are always many witnesses if something were to go awry.

Snugglitude : 9/10  This little loo has saved me on more than one occasion and became a stalwart in my mental health safety plan for travelling to work everyday. It may not be the prettiest toilet but damn does it do it’s job and no one will ever judge you for making a mess or an idiot of yourself because no matter what you do, someone in Camden is a far greater spectacle at any time day or night.

Total : 29/50  You can’t make a mess of something that was a mess to begin with, which brings me some kind of perverse comfort.


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