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10 of the coolest, quirkiest and unique public loos in which to spend a penny; AT YOUR CONVENIENCE From those visited by Hollywood actors and rock 'n' roll legends to ones featuring the work of bird-watching graffiti artists and goldfish in the cisterns, Nathan Bevan lifts the lid on our dream latrines.

OILETS, we all use 'em.

They're the universal leveller - a thing that unites every last one of us on this big blue ball spinning in space, whether we're rich or poor, or from Bengal or Bala.

Yet because of their ubiquitousness and the amount we take their usage for granted, we probably don't give them the credit they are due.

So, for your convenience, here's our run-down of 11 of the best loos from around the country - those which prove being the littlest room doesn't mean you can't have big ambitions.

Pennies at the ready...

PUBLIC TOILETS, OXFORD STREET, MOUNTAIN ASH DID you know that this Valleys' tinkle emporium is magician Paul Daniels' favourite place to take a leak? Seriously! The pint-sized conjurer said so in a 2012 interview.

Turns out Daniels' first-ever paid gig back in the mists of time was at a workingmen's club in Mountain Ash, and the memory of the town's urinals have stayed with him ever since.

"The one thing I still remember about that place all these years later is that they had the cleanest public toilets I've ever seen anywhere in my life," he confessed.

THE HAYES, CARDIFF BACK when the first public toilets opened here, relieving yourself when out and about was less about "spending a penny" and more about "spending 1d".

After all, 1898 was way back in the dark Victorian days of pre-decimalisation - it was also prostate-punishingly short of places you could go should you accidentally get caught short.

So you can imagine the fuss when these WCs - Wales' first-ever public conveniences - eventually opened, with their marble urinal surrounds, brass pipes and glass-fronted cisterns, inside which goldfish could be spotted swimming around.

SKOKHOLM ISLAND, PEMBROKESHIRE A TWITCHER'S paradise, this outcrop off the south-west tip of Pembrokeshire is the kind of loo Bill Oddie would die for.

The fact that it boasts a stained-glass window - depicting both the island's lighthouse and a shipwreck - is one thing, but the real draw is the fact its walls are covered with sketches of rare birds, courtesy of those who pop in to use the facilities.

The avian-themed art began appearing back in the '60s, most of which was lost during a recent refurb.

However, the graffiti has now started to make a comeback, with visitors keen to document their feathered findings on the plasterwork for posterity.

HAFOD ERYRI, SNOWDON LOWLY they may be in our estimations - for instance, how many blue heritage plaques have you seen saying, "So-and-so once had a wee here"? - there's still one toilet which easily earns the mantle of "highest in Wales".

Not surprising, really, given that it's located in the visitor centre on the peak of Mount Snowdon, some 3,560ft above sea level.

Opened in 2009, it receives around half a million ramblers a year - although we'd imagine anyone who's walked all that way to the top will just be passing steam by the time they decide to powder their noses.

NATIONAL ROMAN LEGION MUSEUM, CAERLEON "WHAT have the Romans ever done for us?" asks a spokesman for The People's Front of Judea in Monty Python's Life of Brian movie.

"Er, sanitation, Reg - remember what the city used to be like," comes the reply, before irrigation, roads, medicine, education, law and order, public health and wine are added to the growing list.

And it's sanitation we're looking at here - the WCs at this museum in Britain's former Roman capital being fittingly daubed with rather fetching, Gren-like drawings of centurions rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar's - or, in this instance, rendering unto the cistern that which is the cistern's.

GYPSY WOOD ACTIVITY PARK, CAERNARFON ANOTHER loo of the year winner in Wales was the colourful convenience at the Gypsy Wood activity park in Caernarfon, Gwynedd, which won in the visitor attraction category.

With its equestrian mural and Tinkerbell decorations it looks like My Little Pony and Peter Pan set up their own painting/decorating company - in fact, this charming fantasy-like idyll's spell is only broken by the rather stern sign warning patrons not to place dirty nappies in the sanitary towel container.

GLYNDWR HOTEL, MACHYNLLETH WHEN Led Zeppelin decamped to Wales back in the early 1970s to write their critically acclaimed third album the place they chose to stay in was rather lacking the usual luxuries befitting bona fide UK rock legends.

In fact , Bron Y Aur cottage - where Stairway to Heaven was allegedly penned - had no heating, electricity or running water (aside from a nearby mountain stream) so the band had to trek down to the Glyndwr to carry out all their necessary ablutions.

It's also been suggested the track Nobody's Fault But Mine came about after Robert Plant forgot to check if there was any toilet paper before plonking himself down on the porcelain throne, but we're dubious about whether that's true.

DENBIGHSHIRE (MORE OR LESS ALL OF IT) SEEMS like you can take your pick of conveniences when you're out and about in this North Wales county, as 10 of its public loos were given four- and five-star ratings back in 2008.

What is more, the local council was honoured with the gong for Best Public Toilets in Wales and came 10th in the UK's Premier Loo League.

Five-star ratings went to toilets at the Events Arena (Rhyl), Corwen, Rhyl station, Drift Park (Rhyl), Children's Village (Rhyl), Ysgol Tir Morfa and Llangollen.

Four-star ratings were given to toilets at East Parade (Rhyl), Rosemary Lane (Denbigh) and Princes Road (Rhuddlan).

PORTH PENRHYN, GWYNEDD IT may look like a Hobbit's lighthouse, but this listed building dates back to the 18th century, when it was built for the benefit of the dockworkers who'd load the slate schooners arriving at this Bangor harbour.

A turret-like circular contraption, it would have seated 12 men at once - a little too close for comfort, perhaps, for more privacy-happy, 21st-century sensibilities, and a veritable nightmare for those with bashful bladders.

RED LION, PENDERYN SLEEPY village pub it might be, but that still didn't stop movie heart-throb Johnny Depp popping in for a pint of Spitfire while filming little-seen period drama The Libertine in 2004.

Sadly the infamous outside gents' loos where he alighted to empty his bladder - with its ramshackle roof, curtain-like cobwebs and acrid smell - have now been demolished to make way for sparkling new indoor latrines.

However, the chair on which he sat is still there in front of the open hearth - which, let's face it, is the closest many of us are ever going to get to Hollywood royalty.

CAPTION(S):

Johnny Depp

Rhyl railway station

Tinkerbell

Paul Daniels

Hafod Eryri, Snowdon

Led Zeppelin

Porth Penrhyn, Gwynedd

National Roman Legion Museum, toilet, Caerleon <B

Skokholm Island, Pembrokeshire

The Hayes, Cardiff
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 8, 2015
Words:1120
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