THE winning bid to buy underground toilets in Oxford city centre will be announced in the next few months.
St Giles toilets were put up for lease by the city council in February – attracting 14 bids from hopeful buyers.
The loos, which opened in 1895, were closed seven years ago, after health and safety concerns about caught-short pedestrians crossing a busy road.
Martin Conway, of estate agents Marriotts which marketed the toilets, said he was pleased with the level of interest in them.
He said: “I wasn’t surprised at the number of bids because a property of this type is always likely to get a good level of interest.
“I think it was the location which attracted people, being so central. Properties in the middle of Oxford, particularly with an unusual angle, always attract a good deal of interest.”
The toilets, which were marketed at a guide price of £65,000, could be put to a variety of new uses, the city council said, including a shop or a cafe.
John Tanner, the executive board member for cleaner, greener Oxford, said: “I am thrilled that so many people want to buy the toilets.
“It is central, it is quirky and I hope the taxpayer can make money out of it. We will be looking at the bids carefully and choosing the best possible one for Oxford.”
The 119-year-old loos, which along with the Magdalen Street East toilets are the city’s only underground WC facilities, boasted many original features such as copper piping, brass-plated stair rails and black and white mosaic floor tiling.
By the 1980s, the toilets had deteriorated with rainwater seeping in and damp penetrating the underground walls. They underwent a £47,000 renovation in 1985 during which concrete skylights were also installed.
The council is offering the chance to take on a 125-year lease of the facilities, which cover an area of 47 square metres.
Council spokeswoman Louisa Dean said the toilets were put on the market after the authority was approached by a number of parties interested in purchasing them.
She said: “We took best bids on the toilets in St Giles after they were recently advertised and we are now working on the detail of the best offer submitted.
“This will need to be approved and a finalised deal could take several months.”