Search records

Night soil cart

Date made: 19th-20th century

Description: This is the Night Soil Cart once used by Malew Commissioners in the south of the Isle of Man. In the 19th and early 20th centuries many houses were not connected to mains sewers but instead had a cesspit behind the house. In those days the polite term for human excreta was night soil, and this was in demand from farmers for use on the land as fertiliser. It was removed manually during the hours of darkness by workers known as night-soil men. Because of its smell the wagon was known as the honey cart!

The cart has traces to enable if to be drawn by a horse. Much of the original red paint remains, and the words Malew Commissioners are visible.

This practice explains some of the many odd archaeological finds occasionally made on remote farmland. It was not uncommon -particularly in public houses - for coins, buttons, badges and other items to find their way into the night soil and thus be carted some distance before being deposited in the fields.

Materials: iron, paint/oil, wood

Object name: cart

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 2008-0018


Optional, not displayed

Manx National Heritage (MNH) will always put you in control of the information we send you. Read our privacy policy