Hong Kong (1906 – 1920) / INITIAL PUBLIC BATHROOMS



Connaught Road, 1920s © Hong Kong Public Library

This is the earliest type of public bathrooms existed in Hong Kong.


The earliest type of public bathrooms(latrines)  were designed to maximise its practical function, therefore the only basic materials was applied, for example, stone and masonry. In addition, most of the people has a negative impression with them, hence no ornaments or decorations was utilized either. They were basic, without well ventilated windows or drainage systems. Water flushing system was not widely adopted at times, therefore the public would have to leave their human excretion in a bucket provided. 1 People would have to clear the manures manually at night, thus people would also name the human faeces as “night soil” in traditional cantonese. Due to the fact that most women does not have an occupation, the public bathrooms were used by men only. 2



1 “The occupier of every privately owned public latrine which is situated within any of the districts specified in By-law No.1 (2) (b) shall provide not less than one bucket per seat for the storage of excretal matters in rough weather and for the removal of excretal matters by the conservancy contractor. Such buckets shall be of a pattern approved by the Board.”


W. Bowen-Rowlands, (1912). By – laws made under Section 16 of the Public Health and the Building Ordinances, 1903 – 1909. Hong Kong: The Hong Kong Government Gazette. The Government of Hong Kong, p.567.

2  “ only males, and as a rule only those of the coolie class, use public latrines”


F.H. May, (1907). Minute by the Colonial Secretary on the Report of the Commission to enquire into the working of the Public Health and Buildings Ordinance and the Existence of Corruption in the Sanitary Department. Hong Kong: The Government of Hong Kong, p.187 (2).

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