Maryport’s Roman Influenced Public Toilets

The new Made In Maryport cultural consortium is flushed with success after the first in a series of art projects has brightened up one of the town’s most useful buildings. 

The public toilets on Irish Street, close to the popular harbourside, have been transformed thanks to local artist Alan Roper who’s created an eye-catching new artwork which wraps around the building.

Artist Alan says he’s pleased to have produced the first artwork: “This will now kickstart other projects in the town. I loved the commission and have really enjoyed getting involved.”

With a very colourful Roman theme, the mural on the harbour-side of the structure shows visitors exactly what’s inside, large lettering spells out the word ‘Latrine’, while the wall on the opposite side has the artist’s depiction of a helmet-wearing soldier.

‘Latrine’ on the wall of Maryport’s public toilets

Alan is a graphic designer who trained at Carlisle College and Newcastle University. He lives in Maryport, teaches art, and has carried out other mural projects in the town.

One of the most prominent is at The Settlement education and creative hub, which saw him featured on BBC Countryfile, and he’s worked for organisations like the local Scouts, as well as taking on commissions in private homes and gardens.

The artwork, made possible by a Maryport High Street Heritage Action Zone grant, is the first project to be publicly unveiled under the Made in Maryport banner.

Councillor Mike Johnson, Leader of Allerdale Borough Council, said: “No-one can miss these public loos now they’ve been decked out in this amazing new artwork. It looks fantastic and is a real talking point in the town.”

It’s the brainchild of the Maryport Arts and Heritage Partnership, a group made up of Allerdale Borough Council, Senhouse Roman Museum, Maryport Maritime Museum, The Settlement, the Cultura Trust which owns the Camp Farm Roman site, Cumbria County Council, Yan Tan Tethera Creative company and The Maryporters community group.

Historic England’s Jane Jackson said: “We are delighted to see the impact of this new artwork as part of Maryport’s programme. We hope that locally-created projects like this will help people feel proud of their high street and draw the community and visitors into these historic places.”

Maryport’s High Street Heritage Action Zone programme is funded by Historic England, Allerdale Borough Council and Sellafield as well as property owners.

The plans include the restoration of key historic buildings, bringing vacant floor space back into use, with shop fronts being revived to improve the character of the high street.

Karen Thompson, who heads up Yan Tan Tethera Creative, agreed: “The artistic brief was to create something which was a celebration of Maryport’s heritage. I think it’s fabulous, it’s vibrant, celebrates ourhistory, and has a real sense of humour.”

She also says there are other exciting art initiatives to come, featuring oral history, film, photography, painting and more, as part of the Heritage Action Zone project.

Karen added: “It is important that the project showcases Maryport, but also that it actively supports creatives like Alan who are based in the town. There is a growing creative community in the town and Made In Maryport aims to help them with networking, training and project development.

“It is fundamental to the project that the burgeoning Maryport artistic community is benefiting from this funding.”