Sunday, September 6, 2009

A night cart timeline


Under the Legislative Council’s “An Ordinance to Increase the Efficiency of the Constabulary Force” (23 August 1849)
17. Penalty for removing Night Soil in the day time. — Be it enacted, that if any person shall drive, or cause to be driven, any carriage with any night soil or ammoniacal liquor through the streets or public places, between the hours of five o'clock in the morning, and ten o'clock at night, or shall shoot from a carriage, or cast any night soil, filth, or ammoniacal liquor upon the streets, it shall be lawful for any person whomsoever to seize and apprehend the person so offending, without any other warrant than this Ordinance, and to convey such person before any two justices of the peace, who are hereby empowered to fine the same offender, or the owner, if the driver cannot be found, as well as the employers of the persons so offending, in the sum of not more than five pounds.


The short-lived Borough of Auckland had a Sanitary Committee. Their report in 1852 suggested that instead of holes in the ground in the city used as privies, that the night soil be carried out of the city, beyond Freeman’s Bay, “but not on the hills, in consequence of the prevalence of south-west winds.” (Southern Cross, 24 February 1852)


It was an offence, under the Auckland Municipal Police Act, to convey night soil on a public thoroughfare after 6 in the morning, and before 10 at night.
(SC, 23 March 1858)


By this time, the City Board of Commissioners had employed a night cart contractor. The Auckland Provincial Council Superintendent made suggestion that suburban residents and cultivators might want the night soil.
(SC, 5 August 1863)


Board apply to APC for a place to have a night soil depot.
(SC, 27 July 1864)

APC respond that instead of establishing a depot, it would be better simply to open tenders for a contract, and have whoever got the contract sort out where to dispose of the night soil, for his own profit.
(SC, 10 August 1864)


The Secretary submitted the following tender for the removal of night soil : —
"City Board of Commissioners, Auckland. "
Gentlemen, — We hereby tender to act as nightmen for the removing of night soil from the city of Auckland, under the direction of the Inspector of Nuisances ; and in respect of which we shall be entitled to make the following charges, viz :—: — For carting the contents of each privy, where the same does not exceed one load, the sum of £0 12 0
For each additional load, the sum of ... 0 5 0
In no case shall we be entitled to a larger sum than 1 10 0
"The above charges only to be paid to us upon the certificate of the Inspector of Nuisances. Should our tender be accepted, we bind ourselves to enter into a contract for the proper performance of the duties.— We are, &c,
Richard Farrar,
Donald Sutherland.
Auckland, December, 1865."
The Secretary said the committee had recommended the adoption of the above tender, as being the lowest. On the motion of Mr. Ashton, seconded by Mr. Slater, the tender was accepted.

(SC, 9 January 1866)

Sutherland’s contract was cancelled that March, leaving Farrar as sole contractor.


Farrar declares bankruptcy in January


By now, Thomas Faulder was the contractor (possibly since 1868). In July, he lost the tender to Abel Fletcher from Newton.


By April, Faulder has his contract back.


A farm in Richmond is declared a night soil depot by the City Council in October. Abel Fletcher has the contract.


Complaints about Abel Fletcher, he loses license, then regains it again.


Complaints about the Arch Hill night soil depot.
First Waterview depot. Abel Fletcher has the contract again.

Thomas Faulder was summoned for allowing night soil to be spilt on the Great North Road on the 10th November. Mr. John Sheehan appeared to prosecute on behalf of the Board of Health. The accused pleaded not guilty and asked the Bench to adjourn the case to give him time to answer the charge.— Mr Sheehan offering no objection, the case was adjourned until Wednesday. — There is a second charge against the same defendant of suffering offensive matter to remain on land in his occupation abutting on a public thoroughfare, to wit, the Great North Road, on November 19th. — On the licencee making a similar application the case was adjourned until the same day.
(SC 24 November 1874)


Council decide not to renew Abel Fletcher’s license.


Samuel White, then contractor for Auckland City Council, purchases farmland at Pt Chevalier and begins to deposit night soil there.


Maurice Casey now the contractor. White obtains patent for "Native Guano" production method -- one of the poudrette options.


White, in consortium with Frank Jagger and Casey, gains contract to dispose of Auckland's night soil at the New Lynn poudrette factory.


Leslie McDermott, sole night soil contractor with his “air-tight enamel cess-pans” from August. Ratepayers were required to alter their toilets to suit the pans. “My carts are painted blue.”


McDermott’s business empire, the Auckland Sanitary Company, on the verge of extending to Christchurch.

Mr. Leslie McDermott, who is the inventor of a new sealed-pan for the removal of night; soil which, it is stated, will do away with the objectionable features of the system now in vogue in Christchurch and the surrounding boroughs, is at present in Christchurch, and will bring his scheme before the City Council. It may be stated that his idea was adopted by the Auckland City Council about twelve months ago, and after a year's test the Mayor of Auckland, in addressing the Council on the subject, said he was pleased to find that the innovation had been satisfactory alike to the Council and the citizens. He stated the Government Commissioners (Mr Gilruth and Dr Mason) were very pleased with the system, so much so that they recommended the adoption of the pan system where there was no drainage, and condemned the old style of removing nightsoil in open pans and carts. Mr. McDermott has undertaken the contract for the removal of the nightsoil, and his staff has to attend to 7000 pans, and it is claimed for the invention that it enables the objectionable matter to be removed in' the daytime without the slightest inconvenience. The pans, which are lined with enamel, have tops which can be placed on and made airtight. The pans are then removed in specially built waggons, which hold sixty-four pans each, and clean pans are substituted for those taken away. Upon arrival at the place of deposit, the pans are emptied and thoroughly cleansed by steam, the operation being greatly facilitated by the fact that the inside surface is perfectly smooth. Mr. McDermott has obtained a number of satisfactory reports upon the pans, including testimonials from Dr Ashburton Thompson, President of the New South Wales Board of Health. Mr McDermott is prepared to undertake the contract for Christchurch, finding his own pans and plant, or he is prepared to supply the pans for the Council.
(Christchurch Star, 22 June 1900)

November 1900: Henry and William Wilkinson of Auckland register a patent for converting nightsoil into manure.
(Evening Post, 24 November 1900)


AUCKLAND, August 31
The Conciliation Board made an award in the carters' dispute. They recommended that the hours of labour should 'be 48, exclusive of the dinner hour; 56 hours for nightsoil men. Wages : One horse, 42s ; two horses, 46s ; bakers, 40s for delivery of less than 220 loaves ; grocers, confectioners, bacon curers, and. laundries, 40s per week for men over 22 years of age ; special rates for boys, ranging from 15s to 30s per week ; nightsoil men 50s, a week; day men, 54s. Overtime to be paid at the rate of time and a quarter. Holidays: New Year's Day, Anniversary Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, the Sovereign's Birthday, Prince of Wales Birthday, Christmas, and Boxing Day. Casual labour, 1s an hour. Preference was given to unionists. The award is to extend from October 1901, to September 1904.
(Otago Witness 4 September 1901)

November: McDermott tries selling his pans to Wanganui.


McDermott, with his “Airtight Enamelled Cesspan System”, now has a contract with Grey Lynn Borough.


Auckland City Council advertises for a night soil depot, near either the Kaipara or Waikato railway lines.


The Auckland City Council has abandoned the idea of collecting the nightsoil and taking it by rail to a depot at Waikumeti, and has let a contract for the service.
(Evening Post 26 March 1904)


Frank Jagger, the contractor, in court.

THE SANITARY CONTRACT And its Objectionable Methods
UNSAVOURY as the subject unquestionably is, the prosecution of Frank Jagger, sanitary contractor, on the charge of depositing filth in the upper reaches of the harbour is a matter of supreme importance to the people of Auckland. Not only does it closely affect the health of the community, but it also involves the question of the pollution of the harbour. Under the terms of his contract, Frank Jagger is supposed to convey his pans to an island in the upper part of the harbour, and there bury the material, but for the second time within a recent period the startling disclosure has been made that a considerable amount of this offensive matter has not been buried at all, but has been shot into the harbour, to accumulate on the beaches and breed disease.

As a result of the annoyance that settlers and others in the upper part of the harbour have suffered, a watch was kept by the police, and Mr. Mays, for the Crown, was able to say in Court that during one month alone seven thousand pans were emptied into the harbour. This is intolerable. It is a disgrace alike to the contractor and to the Corporation that countenances the perpetuation of such an offensive system. It is a direct impeachment of the Health Department, which devotes so much of its time to irritating pin-pricking of the smaller local bodies while such a gross menace to the public health as this, by a wealthy Corporation that can afford to and ought to make satisfactory sanitary arrangements, is tolerated.

Though this was the second time that the defendant had been before the Court on this charge, Mr. R. W. Dyer, S.M., considered a fine of £25 and costs a sufficient measure of punishment. But what does the fine amount to, after all? It is no deterrent. As likely as not, many times the amount of the fine was saved by the filthy practice complained of. To dump the offensive matter into the harbour is an easy way to get rid of it, and saves labour, so that the punishment should have been in proportion to the offence. But Mr. Jagger is a man of wealth and influence, though he is the sanitary contractor, and it would appear that he escapes lightly where a poorer man would be fittingly punished.

The defence was that defendant had discharged a great many men whom he had found committing the offence. No doubt, this is the fact, and, if so, the very dismissal of a great many men shows that the practice has been carried on to a wholesale extent. What has the City Council to say to this? Is it justified in polluting the harbour in this way, or, even if it is, has the Harbour Board been doing its duty to the people in allowing the filthy system to continue? The lame defence made by the city councillors is that Mr. Jagger lost some money by a former contract, and they are anxious for him to make it up again, but at what a fearful cost. It would be fifty times better to take over the contract altogether, and recoup Mr. Jagger his alleged losses, and thus end a system that is as offensive as it is dangerous to health and life.
(Observer, 17 February 1906)

Auckland City take over Jagger's land, at Harkin's Point, near Riverhead. After a time, night soil barges ceased delivery there, and the land became a paddock and stud for Auckland City's working horses.


Second Waterview depot.


By now, the Auckland City night soil dump was at Western Springs.


In a letter from the acting City Engineer to the Town Clerk, 12 November 1928, advice that the Western Springs dump had to be moved due to the formation of the road to Western Springs Stadium. A suitable site had been selected on an unformed road south of Old Mill Road.


Last of the city’s night soil contractors, Ferguson and Freestone, takes up work.


From 7000 house collections of night soil in Auckland City’s boundaries at the beginning of the 20th century, there are now 300 in Tamaki and 250 in Avondale still needing the service.


The dump became the Motions Road Flushing Station by 1953, near the zoo’s animal morgue at the rear of the zoo complex. It was also used by Mt Roskill Borough. The morgue was demolished c.1958.


Letter from Ferguson & Freestone, 20 February 1962.
They worked at that time for 2/- per collection, and wanted an increase due to declining numbers of collections (with the sewer extensions in the city). Rate to be 3/6 each for 200 collections, 5/- each for 150 collections or below.

As at March, there were still two main areas requiring collections, Tamaki and Avondale. Extensions of the sewers in Tamaki had left just 18 houses in Remuera needing the service. However, a gradual increase in housing at Blockhouse Bay had built up the collections required there to 730 in September 1961. Since then, sewer extensions in Avondale had dropped the number down to 350 at the end of February 1962. The city’s Health Inspector (6 March 1962 memo) expected that the numbers would be down to 200 by the end of 1962, although it was unlikely the service would be completely eliminated for some years yet.


The Health inspector reported (27 March 1963) that there were a total of 135 houses still on night soil collection, 18 in Remuera, the rest in Avondale-Blockhouse Bay.


Last letter to the contractor sighted in the council files – the service was still continuing for the few houses left.


Night soil reception shed no longer in use as at October, and demolished.

City Archives sources:
Night Soil Dump file, ACC 219/28-657
Night Soil Collection & Drainage in Avondale District, ACC 219/28-232

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