This urinal and associated cast-iron cisterns were used by workers at the Phoenix Clothing Factory in Phoenix Lane, off King Street, West Melbourne.
The urinal cistern was made by C. Monteath & Sons in South Melbourne, a major contractor to the Melbourne & Metropolitan Board of Works for many years. The ‘Chief’ brand-name was used by the firm, established in the early 1890s by Chas Monteath and his sons Charles, John, William and Claude.
Monteath copied the ‘Chief’ cast-iron gravity cistern from overseas designs such as the Shanks & Co ‘Levern’ model. Based at Barrhead in Scotland, Shanks was a major international manufacturer of bathroom and plumbing supplies - their 1899 product catalogue had some 470 pages.
The installation of the toilet and urinal at the Phoenix Clothing Factory in around 1900 coincided with the connection of the city to the sewerage system and illustrates the mixture of local and imported sanitary equipment obtained by the MMBW for Melbourne’s new sewerage system.
The Phoenix Clothing Factory remained in business until the 1930s. Museum Victoria obtained this urinal and cistern from the site in 1997 when the building was refurbished.