This is one of my most cherished items. The Edwardian tiled bathroom in our family home fell victim to an avocado bathroom suite in the early 1970s, complete with blue and purple floral vinyl on the walls. Prior to this there were a mixture of highly glazed white and green tiles, and a cast iron bath, installed when the house was built as a show home in 1911. The standout tiles for me then and still now were these colourful tubelined ones just below border level and I was completely fascinated by them. Some of the glazing was crazed, some were chipped or broken and I had my favourites which I used to run my fingers over as I was towelling off. Yet this bathroom was designated for destruction. The chipped and stained bath with its loudly gurgling plumbing was in need of replacement, and we all wanted a bath with a shower rather than the miserable rubbery hose-thing that fit onto the taps. I couldn’t wait to say goodbye to the broken and perished brown lino which disguised the frequent movement of large spiders across the floor, and the single-glazed window with its emergency winter plastic sheeting held in place by drawing pins was by no means warm. The only thing I couldn’t accept as a small child was the loss of all these sumptuous comforting tiles with their stunning colours which I drank in on a daily basis. Life was about to change – the 70s had arrived
When the tiles were removed I begged my parents to save me at least one of them, and I have kept this – the only complete one we salvaged – ever since. I have this tile on display, and as a single tube-lined tile it remains elegant, fluid and organic, a thing of great beauty. As a part of a complete scheme it was hugely stylish and gorgeous
The tile still fascinates and inspires me, and is a design that I haven’t seen since. That bathroom is a constant source of inspiration. It’s not that ours was any more beautiful than anyone else’s bathroom, but it was cosy and homely in a way that bathrooms used to be, with its Lloyd Loom-style linen basket and red spotty curtains. The backlash to the 1970s bathroom suites is the current tasteful trend for clean functional lines and beige tiles. There is nothing wrong with that of course, and I admit that I succumbed to it at home when we replaced our existing 1980s pale pink suite, but our bathroom in France has to be the perfect place to indulge myself with beautiful tiles and a roll top bath. I actually hope it gurgles when it empties!