Monday, 1 August 2011


Bill Gates has sold another 5 million Microsoft shares raising about $137,950,000 to fund further his charitable foundation. According to the Guardian, "The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is making $42m available for eight universities to develop a toilet that does not need a sewer connection, water or electricity to operate. The aim is to improve people's health in parts of the world where there are few if any flushable toilets."

Perhaps someone should mention to him Henry Moule's dry earth closet, first patented in 1873 and adopted in private houses, in rural districts, in military camps, in many hospitals, and extensively in the British Raj - and also by Thomas Hardy's family, which was related to him. An early example can be seen in an outhouse at Thomas Hardy's cottage.

Moule, educated at Marlborough College and St John's College Cambridge, spent his life as an Anglican curate and then vicar in Dorset. During the cholera epidemics of 1849 and 1854 his exertions were unwearied. Impressed by the insalubrity of the houses, especially in the summer of 1858 (the Great Stink) he turned his attention to sanitary science, and invented what is called the dry earth system. In partnership with James Bannehr, he took out a patent for the process (No. 1316, dated 28 May 1860). Among his works bearing on the subject were: ‘The Advantages of the Dry Earth System,’ 1868; ‘The Impossibility overcome: or the Inoffensive, Safe, and Economical Disposal of the Refuse of Towns and Villages,’ 1870; ‘The Dry Earth System,’ 1871; ‘Town Refuse, the Remedy for Local Taxation,’ 1872, and ‘National Health and Wealth promoted by the general adoption of the Dry Earth System,’ 1873.