Thursday, December 31, 2009

David Ross and his self-acting closet seat

Another of the oddities picked up from the old newspapers while looking for something completely different ...

"Mr David Ross, architect, formerly of Dunedin, has patented a double-purpose sanitary self-acting closet seat, a large working model of which may be seen on view at his office, Queen-street, by those interested in matters of sanitary science. The seat is self-acting as regards its rising motion, being hung on pivots at each side, and is made to rise up by having attached to it by two hooks or otherwise a counter-balancing weight. The advantages of it are: (1) Cleanliness; (2) economy, as it does away with the necessity for a urinal, and the cost of the same; (3) its compactness, as the "double-purpose" seat can be conveniently placed where there is not room for an ordinary seat and separate urinal. The advantage of its adoption in large hotels and public schools is very obvious, and requires no comment."
(NZ Herald, 22 September 1883)

Except to say that we don't have such toilet seats these days, except the ones we lift up ourselves. Well, at least not in common use. His patent that year wasn't the last for such contraptions.

Who was David Ross (1827-1908)? Quite a gifted architect, responsible for the Dunedin AthenaeumDunedin Club, Moray Place Congregational Church, NZ Clothing Company Ltd building, and Warden's Court in Lawrence. After Dunedin, he moved to Auckland, and went to America and Japan.

He also, apparently, tinkered around with plans for the perfect toilet seat.


  1. Ahhh, he seems to be the matching bookend for John Gawler...or perhaps an influence on the Aussie one?
    I like his architect style, excellent taste, even if his toilet seat never took off ;)

  2. "...even if his toilet seat never took off ;)"

    If he used rockets instead of weights, it might have done ... ;)