Refurbishing the Red Staircase Toilets

The red staircase toilets have been chosen as the inaugural Library Fund project as it is clear from their present condition that work needs to happen on them soon. Regular comments in the Library’s suggestions book can attest to many Library users’ dissatisfaction with these facilities.



The Problems

The issues with the toilets include:

  • Lack of facilities in the men's toilets - for a number of years the men’s toilets have operated at half of their original capacity, with plumbing issues removing the urinals from use
  • Ancient pipework - both toilets contain labyrinthine pipework, much of which is old lead pipes which often leak and necessitate costly repairs
  • Damaged flooring - the red tiled floors are damaged in many places, and also ingrained with 100 years of dirt and grime
  • Damaged wall tiles - the crackle glaze wall tiles show extensive damage, degradation and evidence of fittings being removed and stop-gap repairs
  • Internal decoration - the ceilings, windows and cubicles are in need of comprehensive redecoration
  • Poor lighting - the lighting needs to be upgraded
  • Poor fixtures - the toilets, sinks and other fixtures are mismatched and some would benefit from replacement
  • Poor services - hot water in the men’s toilets is provided by an exposed hot water tank sitting on the floor, which needs to be covered and relocated. 


The Refurbishment

The Library Fund provides a wonderful opportunity for Library users to make a positive mark on this historic building for the benefit of the wider Library community. All funds raised will go towards this project, and should more than is needed be donated the excess will be applied to next year’s project.


The budget for the project, and target for this year’s Library Fund is £75,000, with costs in large part dictated by the particular requirements of refurbishing a Grade II listed building. The facilities will be restored to a high standard, without losing any of the special character in this part of the building. All upgraded elements, from wall and floor tiles to sinks, taps and toilet roll holders, will use modern substitutes in keeping with the original style and according to the total funds raised. The impact on Library users will be kept to a minimum – work is planned for mid-2020, and will take roughly 6 weeks to complete.


How to Donate

Donate to the Library Fund quickly and simply using the button below.


Alternatively you can donate by text message, simply text LIBRARYFUND to 70085 to donate £10 (this costs £10 plus a standard rate text message). If you choose to donate via text please be aware that The London Library will not receive your personal details, but we are incredibly grateful for your support. If you want to let us know you have donated via text, drop us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You can also donate in person, just speak to a member of staff at the reception desk the next time you visit the Library.