Oldham Historical Research Group




This memory is from Ray Oliver, who also sent us the story of his Gt. Uncle James Green, who lived in Clarksfield and who served with the Royal Army Medical Corps during WW1.

Tippler Lavatories

For many of us of a certain generation, this memory will awaken their own as the 'tippler' struck terror into many a child ...

"Progress by the Victorians in sanitation techniques came to a halt with the installation of tippler lavatories in Eric Street Clarksfield. The deep hole in a brick outhouse at the bottom of the back yard remained the sole means for relief well into the 1940s and was a source of some terror to me as a 7-year-old visiting my grandparents.

Mounted above the hole was a brown fluted earthenware pedestal crowned by a wooden seat and within easy reach were the newspaper squares (Daily Herald if my memory is not playing tricks) impaled on a nail. This hole was in fact an open connection to the sewer and consequently was a source of aromas not welcome to the more fastidious users of the facility. Concealed at the bottom of the hole was some kind of balanced trough (I have seen something of the kind incorporated into modern water sculptures) which, when filled with waste water piped from the kitchen slopstone, would suddenly clank and send a tsunami sweeping all before it into the sewer.

Armed with a dim torch (habits of the wartime blackout faded slowly) a night time visit was bad enough but, if you were unlucky enough to be in there when the clank/swish suddenly occurred without warning, it was on a par with the fright caused by the recent bombs going off as far as I was concerned.

Family lore told of the time Uncle Joe dropped his pocket watch down there and, post retrieval, how the fishing expedition had been a race against time in case the tsunami took it away for good. Whether it turned out to have been worth retrieving was not revealed to me."

Contributed by Ray Oliver

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