Evil necessaries and abominable erections: public conveniences and private interests in the Scottish city, 1830-70

Brunton, Deborah (2005). Evil necessaries and abominable erections: public conveniences and private interests in the Scottish city, 1830-70. Social History of Medicine, 18(2) pp. 187–202.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/sochis/hki027

Abstract

This study of the provision of public conveniences in four large Scottish burghs explores the governance of public space. Conveniences were the responsibility of local government and were erected to bring moral and environmental order to city streets by providing a confined and private area for urination and defecation. Yet private citizens had an acknowledged right to demand the erection or removal of conveniences in order to bring the condition of public space into line with that of adjacent homes, businesses, and institutions. The burgh authorities therefore had to balance the interests of the wider population against those of individual residents and businessmen when attempting to introduce this sanitary reform.

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