The stories within these walls

THE experiences of a fascinating Bristol character, the Ladies Mile toilets attendant Victoria Hughes, could soon be highlighted to a new generation.

The book Ladies Mile, based on detailed diaries kept by Mrs Hughes for more than 30 years until the 1960s, has been out of print for some years.

But now a Bristol woman is raising money to get it republished. Kerris Harrop intends to sell copies to raise money for the refurbishment of the Victorian toilets next to the Water Tower on the Downs.

Kerris has tracked down Abson Books, the publisher of Ladies Mile, which was edited by the late David Foot, a well known Bristol journalist, and has obtained the copyright, She is aiming to raise £6,000 to print 2,000 copies.

She said: “The toilet block was a safe and comforting place where various characters, mainly working girls, felt able to trust the sympathetic Mrs Hughes to whom they described their lives and backgrounds – truly ‘remarkable and shocking’ tales.

“The toilet still exists and is currently the only public convenience in this area of Bristol.  It’s a pretty Victorian brick-built building and is notable, too, for its Blue Plaque, one of the highest civic honours, awarded to Mrs Hughes who published in Ladies’ Mile in 1977 at the age of almost 80.  

“Sadly the building is not so pretty now.  This once-infamous toilet urgently needs money for improvement and to bring its historic story back into public awareness.   To raise much-needed funds for the toilet’s refurbishment, all profits from the newly republished sale of Ladies’ Mile will be put towards this.

“Republication costs money and so far I have raised £4000 for this.  Some who have donated are eager to read or re-read the book, some recognise that Ladies’ Mile toilets have been part of the Bristolian landscape for many years and are anxious that they remain so, and all of us know that “public spaces need public conveniences”.

You can donate to the re-publication at