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Portaloo, Porta Potty, Porta John, Portable Toilet – What’s in a name?

Portable toilets have many names depending on where you travel around the world. Some of the many nicknames include portaloo, porta potty and porta john.

Why? Toilets are generally not a subject that tops the list of exciting things to talk about! So—naturally—nicknames have played a ‘roll’ in wiping away the awkwardness (pun intended!). Let’s take a look at the history of the portable toilet and some of the nicknames that are used across the world.

The History of the Portable Toilet

1940s: Wood and Metal

The portable toilet design first occurred around the 1940s during World War II. Whilst working in the shipyard without proper facilities nearby, portable toilets were designed and built to be placed on the ship for better practicality.

Portable toilets back during wartime were not sustainable and purpose-built, like they are now. Rather, portable toilets were made out of heaving woods and metals, which trapped odours and made them not-so-portable at all.

1970s: Plastic

The old wooden and metal portable toilets were too hard to empty and retained all the odours in the wood. So there needed to be a new solution that kept less odours and was easy to maintain. A man named Harvey Heather built the first fibreglass portable toilet, which he nicknamed the ‘Strongbox’.

Fibreglass units were a big improvement as they made the portable toilets lightweight and easy to clean. However, the odour was still absorbed by the fibreglass and so the next solution was in motion to build a portable toilet that was odour free.

1980s: Polyurethane

Portable toilets evolved in the 1980s to the ones you know today. Built from polyurethane, this makes for a really light and compact design that doesn’t retain any odours. It also makes for an easy empty and clean so it is ready for next use.

Global Nicknames for Portable Toilets

Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or not, you may have encountered some of these nicknames before. If you’re looking for portable toilet hire overseas, knowing these nicknames could come in handy.

The most popular global nicknames for portaloos are:

  • In Europe, toilets are known as a Water closet or WC for short
  • The United Kingdom has a couple of different names, including bog and loo
  • Also in the UK, but more specifically in Northern England and Scotland, people use the term Privy, which is a shortened version of ‘Private Place’
  • The Irish use the name The Jacks, which is an ode to Irishman Jack Power who invented the first ever multi-cubicle toilet
  • In the United States, you can expect the use of porta-potty and porta-John
  • Locally, Aussies often use Dunny or, if you’re in rural areas, maybe even Thunderbox

If you are looking for portaloo hire, contact Ahoy Hire today!

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With over 37 years in the building and construction industry Ahoy Hire are the builder’s choice for construction site hire equipment. Family owned and operated for over 10 years, Ahoy Hire offer prompt, competitive, temporary site solutions for commercial constructions, residential builders, landscapers, event organisers and owner builders.

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