Story: Building trades

Earth and water closets

Earth and water closets

By the late 19th century earth and water closets were being installed in houses or outbuildings. Water closets were similar to today’s toilets, with a flush chain carrying the waste away. At first this was not into a sewer but a cesspit, as many cities, or parts of cities, still lacked sewers. The contents of the pails from earth closets were collected by the night-soil man in a cart at night.

Using this item

Penguin Random House

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Carl Walrond, 'Building trades - Plumbers and drainlayers', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 29 January 2022)

Story by Carl Walrond, published 11 Mar 2010