The Pink Past.
The Cottages of Merrie
The cottages of Merrie
England have for the most part disappeared, swept away during the Thatcher
years by councils determined to cut public services to the bone and as
part of a wave of gay hysteria. It is true of course as this page will
show that cottages played an important part in gay life and that often
gay men could cause a nuisance to customers wishing to use cottages for
the purpose for which they were built.
However how many men now are forced top
use back gardens, shop doorways and other places to pass water after a
half hour journey back from a pub with a bursting bladder and not a loo
in site ? Surely this constitutes a greater health hazard and public nuisance
than the possibility of a straight man having his willy checked out by
Human beings need to pee. Once the bladder
is full it needs to be emptied and if nowhere 'official' is provided, then
water will have to be passed wherever we can find a suitable place.
It can't be beyond the skill of architects
to design public loos which can be kept clean cheaply and do not attract
the wrong sort of chap.
In the meantime this page is dedicated
to the past and to record perhaps just a little of what did go on. We hope
you will add your memories. Just mail them to us. Please keep mail below
13kb. Split over two if need be.
PS You will enjoy this short ode to cottages
on You tube
More to come.....Please send us
your favourites and memories.
One one of my favourite cottages was Ealing
Common. It was a low brick building partially sunk into the ground and
surrounded by bushes. It was in a corner of Ealing common near to the tube
station. Around it was a large grassed area with wooden seats and
a convenient road where a car could be parked and a watch kept on who went
in and out.
In the early eighties I worked shifts and
had lots of free time in the afternoon. Time and time again I would drive
to the cottage, park my car so I could sit and watch and then wait.
If an attractive guy went in, I got out
of the car and followed him in down the short flight of steps. there was
a urinal on the left and right and three cubicles facing the bottom of
Personally I did not like having sex in
the cubicles but they were very popular. Some afternoons the place was
buzzing with guys all after one thing. One guy regulaly turned up in a
kind of army uniform and had other guys suck him. I would usually catch
the eye of the guy I fancied then leave and go for a short walk in the
park outside. If he followed me, I'd sit on a bench and wait to see if
he came and sat alongside. If he did, I could then talk to him and hopefully
take him back to my place.
I met so many guys there, a super Malaysian
student who became a regular, an Indian Doctor, Chinese guys taking a break
from their sugar daddies, a gas fitter, a lovely black Nigerian, and a
succesion of married Indian guys from nearby Southall. I never once in
the five or six years I used the place picked up a wrong one or had any
problem although one had to keep an eye out for the police.
Sometimes there were mini orgies going
on and one guy would stand near the top of the steps to warn of anyone
approaching. There was a hurried buttoning up and wiping of lips if the
alarm was raised. One guy often turned up in army uniform although I don't
think he fooled anyone.
I do miss the cottages. It was a quick
and easy to find sex without strings. Today I use the internet and while
again I meet some great guys and have some great sex, it's a bit more longwinded
and complicated compared with the cottaging days.
If I hadn't scored at Ealing Common, there
were plenty of others to check out. South Ealing for example. This was
opposite the tube station near a small park. It was great for checking
out when you had got off the tube after coming home from work. there was
always the chance of hitting lucky.
It wasn't really possible to hang around
close by as there was a bus stop outside, but it's suprising how many guys
did not get on the buses when they arrived. A lot of guys too had a great
interest in the windows of an estate agent on the other side of the road.
Others took a great interest in the plants in the small park area behind
Inside the loos were pretty grotty with
a couple of cubicles usually overflowing and a urinal with about room for
three or maybe four.The first guy I ever picked up here was out running
in his track suit. Track suits were always popular with cottagers.
Again there was also a reasonable number
of oriental guys, black guys and Indian guys which always interested me.
The score rate was never quite as high as Ealing Common but there were
some goodies over the years. Eventually the dreaded French loo took
over and the building was demolished.
One of my favourite places. Located just
off the main shepherds bush to Acton Road, the spacious cottage was on
the edge of Acton Vale Park. It was a very very busy place. One could park
right outside and it didn't seem to be too often visited by the Police.
Inside was a long urinal and several cubicles, most of which were occupied
for much of the time.
There wasn't much in the way of places
to watch who came and went except from parked cars or from the bus stop
opposite. There were many regulars including one black guy it took me four
visits to finally hook, and yes he was worth the effort.
Many of the guys in the cottages were either
married or in relationships with other guys, but there were also a lot
of younger guys especially overseas students who often had time free in
the daytime and with pubs being closed in the afternoons, could only use
the cottages to meet people. I still have fond memories of a young Egyptian
student I met in Acton, saw every week for several months and then one
day he disappeared, presumably back to Cairo. probably married now with
sons the same age as he was then. Perhaps one day.....Ah fantasies, what
would we do without them ?
Some think of cottaging a in some ways
disgusting. The truth is it was fun. Remember, pubs only opened until 3
in the afternoon and the evening they were closed at 10.30. There were
very few gay pubs and mostly they were hidden away. There were contact
ads but you had to summon up the courage to buy a copy of a Gay newspaper
such as Gay News from a newsagents. Then where did you get replies sent
if you were married or lived at home.
Cottages were the perfect answer, no hasles,
quick meetings and decisions, good sex and if you were lucky a chance to
build up a little black book of phone nmbers of possible regulars.
However as the sex was so easy and available,
most were not interested in who you were or what your phone number was,
they had you you had them and tomorrow it would be someone else. Fantastic.
No wonder the straight guys were jealous. No wonder they were tempted to
join in and many a guy has left my bed proclaiming that he didn't usually
do this but....
SOME OTHER LOCATIONS
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
I realise this list is not
comprehensive. It relects my own history I suppose. I would always welcome
contributions from others to expand it.
Tucked away on the south side of the bridge this was
very busy but I never really scored here for some reason
Fairly busy little 'cottage' in small park. Often watched
Premier cottage for West London. Busy night and day.
Met some fantastic guys here. Underground ottage at other end of island
'park' never as good
Could be very interesting
Sticks in my memory for one guy I met here with the biggest...ever
Very popular with local lads
Very small cottage in corner of park. Fairly quiet but
|SOUTHALL TOWN HALL
This was a portaloo and it could even be seen rocking
in rythym with the action going on inside.
|SOUTHALL SOUTH ROAD
Tiny cottage in a park opposite a busy row of shops.
Good for closetted Indian guys.
Only recently closed. Could be dead or alive but worth
occasional visit !
Now demolished !!!
Nice Indian boys !
|LAMAS PARK EALING
Small but busy. Many guys sunbathed outside while keeping
an eye on who was going in
Two cottages here and good place to meet joggers in their
quick to slip off track suits and shorts
|WEST EALING CAR PARK
Hidden, dirty and I always felt dangerous. Not very busy
Another No 1 location for trade. Popular with pretty
|M4 SERVICE AREA
A friend of mine used to pick up lorry drivers here.
They parked overnight and had there own cafe and toilets
Small hidden away cottage but not bad for Indian trade
The Hill is still very popular for cruising although
cottage is now closed. very busy and popular however when it was open
|HYDE PARK CORNER
Great for tourists in it's time. Still some possibilites.
|EARLS COURT TUBE STATION
As you would expect, very busy
Still going strong. Even featured in a TV film !
|HYDE PARK (central)
Notorious at one time with celebreties getting arrested
|HYDE PARK (Queensway)
Still going but quieter than in past
Two popular locations within easy walking distance !
|HAMMERSMITH SHOPPING CENTRE
Still there but not what it was darling.
|This list has only just begun.
There are hundreds of other entries but we need your help. Please send
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Portacabin and like Southall Town Hall, heaving
|THAMES VALLEY UNIVERSITY
Ealing. Toilets good hunting ground for students in the
memories of London
After being arrested in a cottage behind
a pub in North Street, Clapham I was very wary and usually stuck to cubicles
with glory-holes. Fortunately they were everywhere in London, so not difficult
to find. You were essentially left alone in private to do whatever you
wanted, though of course you had to be careful of busy-body police with
ladders and mirrors, and of course of straight guys and minors who would
often come in the cubicle next to yours. There was certainly an art to
glory-hole cottaging, and in the little signs to know who was 'available'
and who to be wary of.
When the law was changed in the early
21st Century to allow backroom clubs, etc. the first drafts would have
designated cubicles in cottages as private places, but they had second
thoughts about encouraging gay men and straight couples to use toilet cubicles
for sex, so they were excluded from the final draft.
We had three glory-hole cottages in
and around Clapham Junction at one time, and another in Battersea Park.
The portaloo in Falcon Road had a glory hole between every cubicle, and
there was a guy I used to service there regularly. The first time I encountered
him I was with my partner on the way somewhere and popped in to a cubicle
for a legitimate purpose. This guy was blond and absolutely gorgeous, and
whispered thru the hole 'I need sucking off'. Alas I was in too much of
a hurry to oblige on that occasion, but he was a regular and there were
many other occasions when I was happy to be of service, bless him!
There was a grumpy old cleaner who
used to come around at closing time and sometimes croak: 'Stop all that
wanking, closing time!' On another occasion a guy was making a considerable
noise making one of the glory holes with an electric drill, and was shouting
above the noise to others watching him: 'Would somebody mind keeping a
look out? I'm doing this for everyone's benefit!' An elderly carpenter
working for Wandworth Council bragged on a gay trip to Amsterdam that he
was responsible for the many glory holes in the borough, including the
one in the Arndale shopping mall - handy for anyone who fancied a pleasant
break/distraction from the weekly shopping. Sadly Wandsworth Council no
longer provide this service, nor do other councils.
Cannon Street station was another of
my regular haunts, though the glory hole cubicles were behind an iron gate
which was only opened at 4pm daily. There'd be quite a queue for the 4
glory hole cubicles and a
rush to get in them. I had a regular
there too, but to be honest he wasn't really interested in me. He was a
young guy in a suit, collar and tie - obviously a local City office worker.
But one of the etiquettes of glory holes, at least for those who were a
bit considerate (or impatient) was if you weren't interested in the guy
next door rather than cover the hole with paper and try to out-sit him
you would give him a quick hand relief then he'd vacate the cubicle and
let someone else in. This City guy often obliged me, bless him.
Walthamstow had two glory hole cottages
to my knowledge, and apparently I'm told more I never discovered. At one
of these I actually had the good luck to give a bj thru the glory hole
to a young blond policeman (or more likely a security guard) in uniform
- happy memories!
Some queen must have thought the 69
bus route in East London an appropriate one for cottaging as there were
glory hole cottages each end at Walthamstow and North Woolwich, and several
on the bus route in between - two at Canning Town.
There was one glory hole cottage by
the fire station in Rosebery Avenue, Islington opposite where I worked.
Very handy if I fancied a 'fag break' during working hours (and I don't
even smoke!) This was working till a portly friend of mine from Hastings
was up in London one day with his partner's nephew and his partner's sister
(they'd been to Moorfields Eye Hospital where she was a patient.) My friend
popped down the cottage, heard some noises in the cubicle next door (not
the one with the glory hole), so climbed on the seat to look over at two
guys having sex. The toilet pan smashed to smithereens under his weight,
and he came up the steps with his trousers soaked and with bits of porcelain
stuck to them - the two guys having trade also fled the flooded cottage
pronto. Alas the cottage closed for good soon after - it's still there,
but permanently locked up.
Some of the other glory hole cottages
I fondly remember were located in Acton (market), Mile End, Ponders End,
Wood Green, Alexandra Park (The Grove), Finsbury Park, Croydon, Richmond,
Clapham Common, Thornton Heath, Piccadilly Circus (Burger King), Shaftesbury
Ave (McDonalds), London Airport, King's College, London School of Economics,
St Thomas' Hospital, at many stations including Finchley Road, Fenchurch
Street, London Bridge, Victoria, Wimbledon, and the ones at Clapham Junction
and Cannon Street already mentioned. Now I've retired and got my Freedom
Pass to travel all over London, alas all these cottages have either been
permanently closed or else the glory holes sealed up.
I now know of only two glory hole cottages
remaining in the whole of Greater London, neither particularly good. Graffitti
in cottages is also a dying art. The Internet seems to be the new way to
meet guys, but I never use this method myself. The thing about glory hole
cottaging was it was quick, available in the daytime on the way to/from
somewhere else, And much of the excitement was in the anticipation of not
knowing who might come next door - many straight guys perhaps with their
wives/girlfriends (and sometimes kids) waiting for them outside the cottage,
oblivious to what was going on inside. Always the chance of something even
more exciting like a guy in uniform.
Oh how I miss that scene. The glory
holes in gay saunas and backroom clubs are just not the same, and are often
too dark or little used. Too often the cubicles in these places are hogged
by couples or threesomes and the glory holes ignored completely.
The great advantage of cottaging was
that it was quick (apart from the waiting around for someone you fancied
who was available). Once you found your match there was none of this doing
a bj for 20 minutes till your jaw aches and then they zip up and announce:
'Oh I'm not ready to cum yet' which you tend to get in the clubs. They
got on with it, so if your luck was in you could do several in an hour
and then get a bj or hand relief yourself.
Now if you go to the clubs, many of
which don't open till 11pm, it's an all-night job with many not prepared
to cum till closing time. As to saunas, I've been a few times but the activity
in these tends to be sporadic. No, give me a busy glory hole cottage any
day. Alas, nearly all gone now.
Other glory hole cottages I've since
remembered which you may wish to include in my list include:Nag's Head
Shopping Mall (Holloway), White Cross Street (near the Barbican), Stanway
Street (Hoxton), Smithfield Market, Parliament Hill Fields, a short-lived
one in a shopping mall in Oxford Street and London Fields.
None of the glory holes mentioned in
this article still exist, and I deliberately haven't mentioned the two
I know are still there, which aren't very good anyway as glory hole cottaging
is largely a thing of the past. One has no locks on the doors and was practically
deserted when I visited recently, the other seems to be the same old faces
-many hogging the cubicles for ages. Also an attendant reportedly now often
watches the comings and goings.
For current information on glory holes,
cottages, cruising grounds, etc. guys should visit the Gaybod site: http://boards.gaybod.com/cgi-bin/discus/discus.pl
AT GRAVEL HILL !
Now the memories are really
coming back. the cottage at the bottom of gravel hill, south croydon /
This two cubicle cottage had a super
glory hole. Just big enough for the thickest of cocks. There was never
a shortage of action. One day croydon council came along with two purpose
made metal plates. A huge nut and bolt in the middle and smaller ones at
each corner. A huge bolt passed throught he glory hole and a nut placed
the other side, then the end of the bolt bashed to stop it being undone.
A friend peter and I one night armed with appropriate tools went on a mission.
We took about an hour removing this plate. Finally removed we left with
the plate and tools. We were going to dump it somewhere. As we left the
cottage a bobby passed us on foot patrol. Amazingly he didn*t stop us and
ask what we were doing leaving a cottage at 2:30am
Once again the cottage of gravel hill
was open for business
25 years old and in London !!
I was located in london in 1986
aged just 25 and soon discovered some very well used cottages. The first
of these was located at Putney Bridge, very popular for urinal and cubicle
action (with plenty of spy-holes!) Another cottage was at the top of the
bridge near the river and i picked up many times in there. Others i found
were at Hammersmith shopping centre, Clapham South, Wimbledon porta-kabin
(heaving) and Hendon. It is sad cottaging is an almost dead industry...i
have one local cottage in w2 which is very popular and frequented by staff
(clue..nurses!) and gay and married guys so it serves a purpose!
OF COTTAGES IN LEICESTER
I was a gay man in my mid twenties
in Leicester in the late seventies, early eighties. You may find my memories
Boasting only one Gay Pub, the Dover Castle,
Leicester needed cottages to satisfy the needs of local gay men in the
late seveties and early eighties. One of the most popular was Slater Street,
which was very very busy for many years. Close by was the Abbey park which
had several really good picking up places.
Infirmary Square, one of the underground
cottages was always a good bet as was the one near St. Marks in Belgrave
Gate. Rumour had it the Police left it alone as they always knew where
to pick up twenty of thirty gay men for importuning if they wanted to boost
their crime figures.
'Viccy' Park would always figure on the
list of places to visit when hunting for a man. Most guys here seemed to
be married reps with cars parked close by and often a hotel room to go
to. Evington Road was one of my favourites with a good class of trade and
a quiet location. The Market Place was always busy but sorting the straights
from the Gays could be a hazard. The Haymarket centre had the same problem
but one's sixth sense usually proved to be correct.
St Margarets Bus Station could be very
busy but one had to be very cafeful about under aged boys. There were more
than a few out to earn a few bob.
The Police were always very active around
the cottages in Leicester and used decoys a lot. The local newspaper was
very homophobic and delighted in publishing names and addresses of those
arrested for indecent acts or importuning.
Today things have changed a lot. There
are several pubs and clubs and although cottages have gone, the large Asian
population contains some real cute guys without many hangups about enjoying
sex without strings.
COTTAGES OF NEWPORT IN WALES.
There were 2 excellent cottages
in Newport (Gwent). One was in the bus station, and the other on the corner
of Commercial Road,adjacent to Church Street, where the Greenhouse sauna
The one in the bus station has been closed,
and replaced by a coin-operated loo. It was small, with 3 cubicles, which
generally had glory holes, as the walls were very thin. It was always very
busy on Friday and Saturday afternoons, and I had a regular mate, who gave
the most amazing fuck.
Although it was small, and you had hardly
any warning of people approaching, I never heard of anybody getting arrested
in the 10 years or so I went there (from late 80's to the late 90's). I
did have a fright once though when a policeman walked in, and went straight
to urinal - where he unzipped his fly, started to have a pee, and started
to laugh!He knew what we were there for, but didn't say a word. Not all
of the boys in blue are nasty pasties!
The other toilet is still there. It should
be a listed building, as it is a Victorian building, built in the late
1890's. In more recent times, in the late 1980's, it was extremely popular
with cottagers, right up to the late 90's. People used to bring sandwiches,
and spend the whole day there - no joke. I had many a happy time time.
There was a large glory hole between the
1st 2 cubicles, and it was always fun trying to stick your dick through
it, as the walls were 7" thick.
I wouldn't recommend it now. It's been
raided on several occasions, and was even set alight once by vandals, whilst
I was in it - talk about hot sex. A couple of times I was walking out as
police were walking in, and I've not been back since.
I used to visit Newport on business in
the late seventies staying in a Victorian hotel I think called the Queens.
I had great fun smuggling local guys into my room including a foreman from
a local steel works. I did try the bus station venue but found the back
bar of a small pub whose name I forget could be productive !. I also met
the original 'only gay in the village' who lived way up in a valley in
a small village and came into Newport occasionally to find trade.
Swansea and Neath also produced some pleasant
experiences. In Neath I had a nice session with a guy from Derby who was
getting married the next day and finished off the evening with the barman
of the small hotel I was staying in. I also met a lovely Kashmiri guy in
Swansea and passed a pleasant night in my hotel.
Our Pink History
series of articles about our past (Other pages in this section)