The Norfolk toilets that can send out text messages
12:23 03 April 2014
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2013
A trip to the loo is – in essence – a fairly bog-standard event. But now the experience is being brought into the 21st century, with a host of hi-tech toilets being earmarked for south Norfolk towns.
-Sir John Harington is the person most credited as being the inventor of the toilet, having reportedly created one for Queen Elizabeth I at Richmond Palace in 1596.
-Thomas Crapper did not invent the toilet but created the siphon flush system we use today.
-On average each person spends three years of their life on the toilet. They visit about 2,500 times a year and use an average of 57 sheets of toilet paper a day.
-There is a public toilet for every 10,000 people in London.
-There are 78 toilets in Buckingham Palace.
-Although loos can be dirty, a desk is thought to have 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.
-Toilet paper was not developed until the late 19th century – and was originally sold as individual sheets in boxes rather than in rolls, which did not come in until the 1930s.
The lavatories will send a text message to council staff when the loo roll is running low.
And the horror of cleaning will be a thing of the past. For these facilities are self-cleaning, and automatically wash the floors and pan after every visit.
Deputy South Norfolk Council leader and cabinet member for localism and communities Martin Wilby – who is overseeing the project – said the idea was to improve cleanliness and reduce maintenance.
However, should the technology falter, Mr Wilby said the loos in Diss, Harleston, Loddon, Wymondham,
Hingham and Long Stratton would still be visited once a day by maintenance staff.
“The technology should be able to do it all automatically but we are covering everything,” he said. “It’s all very well leaving it to its own devices but you still need someone visiting every day.”
Each of the toilets will be single units with slightly sloping floors.
After each use, liquid will wash the floor and clear away any rubbish left behind into troughs.
The toilet paper mechanism, he explained, worked much like an ink cartridge in a printer – by measuring the amount of loo roll left and sending a SMS when it was getting close to the end.
The idea came after council leader John Fuller worked with Davina Tanner, general manager at the Chapelfield shopping centre in Norwich, to discover the secrets of her centre’s success.
He learned that cleanliness of the toilets was one of the abiding memories for visitors to Chapelfield and, therefore, one of the key factors in being able to attract shoppers back.
“Toilets are an essential part of the shopping centre and we feel that keeping our market towns up to scratch with modern facilities that are convenient and comfortable to use and are always available when people need them is an important investment,” Mr Fuller said.
The improvements to the toilets are part of a £1m investment into South Norfolk market towns over the next 14 months to make the areas “look a million dollars”.
It could see the toilets being refurbished or completely rebuilt, with some of the older and smaller brick-built toilets possibly being suitable for conversion to small shops.
However, Mr Wilby stressed no final decisions had yet been made, as the council was consulting with residents and parish councils about what they would like to see in their communities.
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