Famous toilet to go on display

A FAMOUS North-East public toilet is to become an exhibit at Beamish Museum.

The Westoe Netty, a late nineteenth century row of urinals from Westoe in South Shields, was built in about 1890.

It inspired a well known painting of the same name, by South Shields artist Robert Olley.

Thousands of prints of the original painting have been sold in the North-East.

It shows a line of men using the row of urinals and a cheeky boy weeing into a man's boot.

Originally, the Westoe Netty was next to the railway bridge through Westoe.

It was salvaged by an enthusiastic group of Mr Olley's friends, in advance of demolition for regeneration in Westoe in 1996.

The toilet has been stored in a shipyard in Hebburn in South Tyneside until recently, when it was donated to Beamish by South Tyneside Council.

Councillor Jim Sewell, South Tyneside Council's lead member for culture and wellbeing said: "This humble public toilet gave inspiration to Bob Olley for his world famous painting which vividly illustrates the days when men always wore dark clothing, cloth caps and mufflers and frequented the many public houses and working men's clubs in the town.

"I am delighted that the old Westoe Netty will be given a good location at Beamish and will remain on the list of tourist attractions."

The building is not entirely complete, but all of the original materials are there and easily replaceable.

When the netty was taken down in the mid-1990s, about 200 of the bricks from the building were "adopted" by locals for safe-keeping until it was likely to be rebuilt.

Museum bosses are now asking anyone who has one of the original bricks to get in touch.

Beamish hopes to begin work on rebuilding the netty in the near future, it is planned to locate it close to the Museum's 1913 Railway Station, placing it in as near its original context as possible.

It will be open to visitors, though as an exhibit rather than serving its original purpose.

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