“Commit no nuisance”

As you wander around London you might see, either on an old sign, or painted up on a wall, the message “commit no nuisance”. ┬áThere’s an example below from the sign on the south side of Waterloo Bridge – “2: COMMITTING NUISANCE – no person shall commit any nuisance on any bridge…”

commit no nuisance

Charming, yes? A Victorian injunction to always behave oneself in a pleasant and decorous manner? (The signs and notices are always a good 100 years old.)

Not quite.

What they’re really saying is – “Men, don’t p*** against the wall”

In the days before public toilets (indeed, before proper plumbing in most pubs and houses), the more respectable citizens were frequently up in arms about the ‘lower orders’ relieving themselves in public. You’ll find more about this – and more physical deterrents used to prevent al fresco micturation – in Lee Jackson’s excellent book, Dirty Old London.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *