Battle for toilets at Berkhamsted Castle rages on

John Waller at Berkhamsted Castle.
John Waller at Berkhamsted Castle.

Picture the scene: You are a national treasure.

Your birthday is coming up. A particularly significant birthday actually – your 950th.

And you are offered anything you want for your birthday. What would you ask for?

Because next year is the 950th birthday of Berkhamsted Castle, as well as 950 years since the site saw the Anglo-Saxon leadership surrender to William the Conqueror.

And campaigner John Waller knows exactly what the castle should be given to mark the date.

“We have thousands of visitors every year, schoolchildren from across the UK, and tourists from across the world. Yet when they need the toilet we have to send them to the nearest pub.

“And if they are youngsters who can’t wait then they are often reduced to spending a penny against the wall.”

He added: “There’s no parking either. No parking and no toilets, at a site where the entire course of our history changed.”

John Waller has lived in Berkhamsted all his life, and has campaigned over the castle’s lack of facilities for years.

But with the tourist attraction’s 950th birthday looming, he hopes to finally end his battle.

He said: “Berkhamsted Castle is one of the most important places in English history.

“It’s owned by Prince Charles, a multi-millionaire with vast amounts of land.

“And yet it doesn’t even have toilets or parking.”

Mr Waller, 73, has volunteered as a steward at the castle for several years, showing tourists and schoolchildren around the site.

He pulled no punches when it came to discussing Prince Charles, who owns the castle as part of the Duchy of Cornwall, or English Heritage who run the site.

He said: “How much land and money does Prince Charles make? The Duchy of Cornwall alone has 47,000 hectares of land and made a £17million profit last year, tax-free.

“If Charles cared for his country then either he can afford a few pounds for portable loos or he would hand the site over to somebody who did care about it.

“A few years ago somebody offered to pay for the toilets themselves, because they cared about the site and our country’s history. But English Heritage said ‘No’.”

A spokesman for English Heritage said: “Berkhamsted Castle is an open free site within the guardianship of English Heritage.

“There are public toilet facilities at the station and in the town centre, both a short walk away.

“Our free sites are not staffed and therefore as a general policy, it would be impractical to provide toilet facilities.

“English Heritage has over 400 properties in our guardianship so it is crucial that we spend our money in cost-effective manner to best preserve and manage the wide variety of important buildings and monuments in our care.”