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Press Release: 03/07/2006

    An eye-catching display of medieval water pitchers, a Roman mosaic and examples of Edwardian sanitary engineering is on show in the window of the Market Lane public toilets in the centre of Winchester.

The exhibition has been arranged by Winchester Museums with local design firm Prospectus Projects. It uses material from the City Council's collections and is designed to encourage visitors to explore the nearby City Museum, where the city's relationship with the Itchen and its 19th century sewerage problems are dealt with in more detail.

The City Council's Portfolio Holder for Culture, Heritage and Sport, Cllr Patricia Stallard, welcomed the new feature.

"This is an opportunity for shoppers and casual visitors to enjoy items in the museum collections that are not normally on display," she said. "The Market Lane toilets won a RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) award when they were opened, partly on account of their stylish façade: this creative development of the window space at last makes use of the frontage in a way which complements the work of the original architects."

Winchester City Council's Principal Curator Geoff Denford, who has masterminded the project, added:

"We are gradually developing a network of informal display points around the city where people can go for a 'bite size' museums experience to increase access to the extensive collections which we look after for the people of Winchester. These include cases at the city council offices in Chesil Street and a case for civic silver at the Guildhall.

"But there is no substitute for the real thing, and we would always encourage people to spend time at the City Museum and the Westgate to get the full flavour of our rich history."

There was extensive media coverage of declining standards of public toilets in the United Kingdom during the World Toilet Summit in Belfast in September 2005. This scheme does much to reinforce Winchester City Council's track record of investment in public toilets, which is to be enhanced further by work already in progress to replace the Jewry Street toilets as part of the new Discovery Centre scheme and current consultation over new facilities for Abbey Gardens.

Richard Chisnell, Director of the British Toilet Association who is based in Winchester, was delighted to support the initiative in Market Lane, commenting "Winchester has recognised the need to upgrade some of its older public toilets which do not reflect 21st century standards of specification and hygiene.

"I applaud the City Council's decision to upgrade the Abbey Gardens toilets which provide first impressions for arriving visitors and we look forward to seeing - if not using - the new public toilets adjacent to the revamped Jewry Street Library."