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April 26, 2010 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Piss Up Anyone?

Discussions are underway to revive the underground men’s toilets on the corner of Courtenay Place and Taranaki Street.

The ‘art and craft’ style urinals are being considered for the location of a new bar or pub.

The concept of turning places to piss into places to get pissed isn’t new. The Welsh Dragon Bar at the end of Courtenay Place is situated within another heritage site which once housed public toilets.

Apparently toilets are a tourist attraction, as these toilets, the last remaining underground toilets of their kind, are number 18 for tourists to do on the ‘Explore Wellington’ list.

Built in 1911 and closed in 1999 after being called “too shabby”, the decision to re-open the toilets in a new capacity is one of 12 council initiatives agreed on to “spruce up Courtenay Place”.

Other services that have been suggested for the location are an ice cream parlour, cafe, Weta Museum and possibly even a mortuary for people mowed down on pedestrian crossings.

Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast is looking for “sympathetic” use of the heritage building, something that will “spill onto” the Courtenay place park opened two years ago.

When put to the public, it seemed that a majority were keen just to see the toilets done up to serve their original use as apparently, “people are always looking for toilets”.

However others say that the location is far too dodgy and has a “seedy past”, according to Wellington residents. With its wrought iron grills over the windows and ivy-covered walls it appears to be more suited to a small and dimly lit jazz bar than a safe place for an innocent toilet stop.

In 2001 Olympic gold medallist Ian Fergusson had plans to turn the run-down toilets into a wine bar with seating of 30, but realised it was not a profitable venture.

Prendergast hopes that the new establishment will be finished in time for the Rugby World Cup next year. Expressions of interest are expected to be asked for this week by the city council.

The council has requested the suggestions don’t take the piss. (Well not really, but it would have been awesome.)


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