Story: Washing, cleaning and personal hygiene

Night soil problems, 1903

Night soil problems, 1903

Before the advent of flushing toilets, the toilet's contents (night soil) were taken away for disposal by night-soil men. As this 1903 letter to Wellington City Council shows, problems could arise when the the night-soil man failed to do his job. Charles Bennett wrote: 

'I am occupier of a house in Hamilton Road opposite school gate, Kilbirnie, and cannot understand why the night soil is not removed. When the collector called and was paid on Monday 24rd he promised to see the contractors and have the nuisance remedied but the usual night for this work has again passed without its being removed. Will you please see to this immediately as the W.C. [water closet or toilet] cannot be used at all until emptied.'

Using this item

Wellington City Archives
Reference: 00233:85:1903/521

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How to cite this page:

Kerryn Pollock, 'Washing, cleaning and personal hygiene - Toilets', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 9 August 2022)

Story by Kerryn Pollock, published 5 Sep 2013