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Dunedin City Council archivist Alison Breese spoke about the city's underground toilets at Archives and Records Association of New Zealand Otago-Southland's annual meeting at the Dunedin Gasworks Museum last night.
Considered modern and up-to-date with overseas trends, they were a vast improvement on what a councillor at the time called the ''particularly unpleasant'' existing facilities.
All were staffed by an attendant, who was always a former council employee.
The last underground toilet, in the Octagon, closed in 1989. Historically, it had been the only one to cater for women as well as men, as women were not expected to be outside the home often in the earlier part of the 20th century, Mrs Breese said.