Gold award for Audlem Toilets

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Loo of the Year Gold award
Audlem Public Toilets, October 2011
Toilets opening - the plaque
Audlem Toilets - plaque by Jo Halden
The First (and Last) public toilets of the North

Audlem's refurbished Public Toilets next to the car park in Cheshire Street have gained national recognition. The toilets have won a Gold Award in the Loo of the Year competition. 

When Cllr Mike Hill announced the success at Monday's Parish Council meeting, the news was greeted with a round of applause from the other Councillors and members of the public in recognition of the sterling efforts by Mike and ex-Cllr Bill Consterdine.

As regular readers will know, the refurbishment of the toilets last year by Audlem Parish Council, after they had been previously closed by Cheshire East Council, was such unusual news that it attracted the attention of BBC's The One Show.

The toilets reopening in Audlem were against a background of public toilets being closed all over the country as councils sought to reduce costs.

Manchester, compared with Audlem by that BBC programme, now also has just one public toilet open after inconveniently closing seventeen of its eighteen facilities.

Audlem Parish councillors, however, persuaded Cheshire East to fund the refurbishment before the Parish Council took on responsibility for their future operation and maintenance.

All new interior

The toilets have been overhauled completely inside. Previously, only about a third of the building was used with an unpopular, and unreliable, automatic flushing and cleaning ladies toilet; a male toilet that was exceedingly small and a disabled facility.

The toilets now have conventional white ware and cubicles — in a tasteful shade of powder blue — and the whole of the interior is now used.

Brighter Exterior

The exterior has been brightened up with colourful designs of the village and surrounding countryside by local artist Jo Halden, all taken from the current Audlem tea towel designed by her.

Local contractor

The refurbishment was carried out by local contractor CMS (Construction Management Services) led by Des Guerin and the whole process has been supervised by then Audlem parish councillor Bill Consterdine and Councillor Mike Hill.

The toilets are free to use but honesty boxes have been installed for anyone who wishes to contribute to help defray the costs of operating the facility.

The toilets automatically lock in the evening and reopen each morning. The cleaning contract was awarded to Audlem Angels.

'First Toilets of the North'

A sharp-eyed geography enthusiast also pointed out that Audlem's toilets were the most southerly in the whole of the North of England, further proof of Audlem's claim to be 'The First Village of the North'. This remarkable and previously unnoticed fact is acknowledged on a small plaque on the toilet wall!

It's good to see the toilets, which have been much praised by visitors and local users alike in the past year, have now been recognised nationally in the Loo of the Year awards.