Water Street Public Toilet and Bathhouse [????- ] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Water Street Public Toilet and Bathhouse [????- ]

Current condition: 
In use

Photos that show this place


There is an interesting article from 2012 in China Daily about the history of public toilets and bathhouses in Hong Kong: 

How the public toilet changed Hong Kong


No. S. 146.  In accordance with section 168 of the Public Health and Buildings Ordinance, 1903, Ordinance No. 1 of 1903, it is hereby notified that the Government proposes to erect a Public Latrine and Urinal at the junction of Pokfulam Road and High Street.

If any owner or occupier in the immediate vicinity of such site objects to such erection, such objection must be sent in writing to the Colonial Secretary so as to reach his office not later than Friday, the 17th June, 1921.

Public Works Report for 1921

100. Latrines and Urinals. - The following public conveniences were is course of construction during this year:

(b) Trough closet, underground, (4 seats and 1 trough urinal), at junction of Pokfulam Road with High Street.

Conclusion: this obviously is a predecessor to the present building! 


The present bath house was built in 1972. Source and details: 

Ordinary Heritage of the Ordinary People: Hong Kong’s Public Bathhouses, dissertation by CHAN Ka-lam 2012 (can be downloaded on request here)


Thank you so much for posting the link to this article on Hong Kong public toilets, Klaus. My grandfather, Charles Warren arrived in Hong Kong in 1895 after the big bubonic plague outbreak and, after stints with PWD and in the Sanitary Department, set up his own business supplying sanitary ware and constructing drains as well as building houses. David posted the following letter to the SCMP of 22 May, 1913 from him under the "C.E. Warren" Gwulo entry. David spotted it in the SCMP books "Points of View. A century of Letters to the Editor of the SCMP":

"Sir, on the removal of the Clock Tower, I suggest that an underground convenience for Europeans be built there. This would not take up much space on the surface of the road, and with a small railing around, it would serve the purpose of regulating the traffic. By charging a small fee, as is done at Home, it would soon pay for itself."

Yours etc.


In 1901 there was another bad bubonic plague outbreak. My grandfather was one of the thousand signatories to a memorial to the Governor dated 13 July 1901 expressing anxiety about the sanitation of the Colony and requesting that a British sanitation expert be invited to make a survey and submit a report.

Under the "Naming of Warren Street" thread I mentioned that I had been struck by the high quality of the public convenience on the corner of Warren Street by comparison to the run down nature of the street. I sadly lost my photos of this 2004 visit. If anyone is passing this area, please could you take some photos of this public toilet for me!

A propos of the above letter, was my grandfather's suggestion ever taken up? Also, was it usual to have public toilets set aside for Europeans exclusively?

Here's a photo from Wikimedia Commons:

warren street public toilet facade
warren street public_toilet facade, by Iskahgoirla

Many thanks for finding this, Klaus. I had never heard of Wikimedia Commons. It would be good to have less blurry lettering, but perhaps the notices aren't relevant to the location. The building is as substantial and modern as I recall. I wonder if it had a predecessor.

Hi Jill,

This one had been around for very long time as Tai Hang is an old district.  Uncertain if it had been rebuilt or refurbished.  It looked like this for a bit more than a decade.  It used to be painted beige outside (like other Urban Council buildings back in those days) and we could look for it by smell one junction away back then.  Much better after the renovation.

There is still an old one in the neighbourhood at Oil Street.  



Thanks for this info, tngan. We visited Warren street in 2004 - so nearly 18 years ago. My recollection of the toilet is that it was white then. I would remember if the smell had been overpowering! Things must have improved after the renovation. It seemed to me that my grandfather would have pressed for a toilet or at least latrine for his factory workers in Warren Street but I haven't yet spotted it as an expense amongst the other works that were undertaken to upgrade the street at the time.