HISTORIC toilets in Oxford look set never to reopen due to health and safety fears.

St Giles toilets, which opened in 1895, have been closed for three years.

But last night officials said fears over their location in the middle of the busy road meant they were unlikely ever to reopen.

The 116-year-old loos, which along with the Magdalen Street East toilets are the city’s only underground facilities, boasted many original features such as copper piping, brass-plated stair rails and black and white mosaic floor tiling.

Oxford City Council spokesman Louisa Dean said: “They were closed after a review was carried out of public conveniences in the city due to health and safety concerns as they are in the middle of a busy road with no crossing in place.

“There are currently no plans for reopening them.”

But Sushila Dhall, of Oxford Pedestrians’ Association, called for a crossing to be put in so the toilets could reopen.

She said: “We have far too few toilets in Oxford already. We seem to lose toilets left, right and centre.

“There ought to be some means for people to cross St Giles. It is as wide as a motorway but it functions as one lane. In many countries it would be a public square.”

By the 1980s the toilets had deteriorated seriously 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.

In 2009 the city council launched a consultation on whether to close 11 of its 27 public toilets to save £50,000 a year but the decision was taken to close only the Barns Road, Cowley, and Castle Street facilities and one disabled cubicle at Headington Hill.

Wolvercote Port Meadow and Hinksey Park toilets became seasonal, opening from May until September depending on weather.

The city council has since launched a community toilet scheme, asking stores and restaurants to volunteer their facilities to shoppers.

Owen Morton, a county council spokesman, said: “There are no current plans to introduce a new crossing or new measures to control traffic flow on St Giles,although the council will continue to monitor the situation.

“We receive many requests for road safety schemes at locations across the county each year but like all highways authorities we only have limited funds for such schemes.”

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