Moule's Mechanical Dry Earth Closet

Contributed by Dorset County Museum

Henry Moule's patent mechanical dry earth closet. © Dorset County Museum.

Moule patented his earth closet in 1873. They were sold by the Army and Navy Stores and cost about 30 shillingsIn 1859, the Reverend Henry Moule of Fordington invented the first composting toilet after deciding that his family's cesspit had become intolerable.

Moule discovered that dry earth, mixed with human waste, produced clean compost in just a few weeks. A religious man, Moule disapproved of the Water Closet. He felt it polluted God's rivers and seas and was a waste of God's nutrients contained in excrement, which should be returned to the soil.

1n 1873 Moule took out a patent on his design for a mechanical earth closet, which allowed human manure to be saved for return to the soil, without the owner having to endure the stink of the average privy.

Dry earth or peat is put into the hopper at the back of the seat and a removable bucket placed below. When the handle is pulled, a small quantity of earth is spread on top of the human waste to reduce the smell and help it to decay. When the bucket is full the contents are dug into the garden.

Comments are closed for this object


  • 1. At 10:33 on 21 May 2012

    Failed moderation

  • 2. At 10:03 on 22 May 2012, Natsol Compost Toilet Specialists wrote:

    Other improvements in our 21st century version are urine separation and ventilation.

    Complain about this comment

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