Old toilet door is now a museum piece

find ... Ron Brown of AAG Archaeology with the netty door. Below, the Westoe Netty painting.
find ... Ron Brown of AAG Archaeology with the netty door. Below, the Westoe Netty painting.

A toilet door recovered from a historic South Tyneside building now takes pride of place at one of the North East’s most popular visitor attractions.

During a survey of a Regency townhouse in Beach Road, South Shields, staff at North-East company AAG Archaeology found what is possibbly the only lavatory door to make it into a museum collection.

Westoe Netty (1972), an oil painting by Bob Olley.

Westoe Netty (1972), an oil painting by Bob Olley.

It was eagle-eyed archaeologist Ron Brown who spotted what is thought to be the best-surviving example of a classic North-East netty door sticking out of the rubble of a demolished toilet.

Now the door is on display at County Durham’s Beamish Museum, also home to the famous Westoe Netty, the inspiration for a much-loved 1972 painting by borough artist Bob Olley.

When the railway embankment that housed the 1890-built Westoe urinal was removed in 1996, every piece of the structure was put in storage.

In 2007, the open-air museum gave it a new home.

Mr Brown said: “The netty door from Beach Road is a significant find as it typifies the regional netty door.

“The door is painted in the shade of green commonly seen on fixtures and fittings of the Victorian and subsequent periods.”

Mr Olley is happy to see another symbol of working-class life in the region being preserved.

He said: “So many must have gone on bonfires over the years, it’s good to know there’s one left to make it into a museum.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul