What is a bucket latrine? To those who has no idea what it is, a picture is worth more than a thousand words.
Sketch of a bucket latrine
Bucket latrines outside a factory
Night soil worker carrying night soil buckets
at Joo Chiat Road
In the early 1960s most shophouses outside the city used bucket latrines for disposal of human wastes. The latrine was usually located at the extreme end of the house so that removal of the night soil bucket could be carried out from the backlane. In the case of 3 storey back to back houses in China town, there were inadequate latrines in each floor. As a result the night soil buckets were often filled to the brim and waste liquids dripped all the way from the upper floor down the staircases to the ground level. Imagine the stinking smell the tenants had to bear daily.
A bucket latrine converted to wc squat pan.
Later sewers were laid in the backlanes and house owners had to convert a bucket latrine into a water carriage system squat pan as in the above photo.
My house had about 10 people living together. The night soil bucket was not only often full but also stink. I was forced to light a cigarette to counter the melodorous assault. My mother smoked and I took her tobacco to roll my own cigarettes.