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    A Brief History on the Flushing Toilet

    August 3, 2015



    A Brief History on the Flushing Toilet

    A Brief History on the Flushing Toilet


    A Brief History on the Flushing Toilet

    One of the most important rooms in the home or in any building is the bathroom. We visit this room multiple times each day and it’s the room that most people hate cleaning. In this room there is an essential item – the toilet. This piece of equipment is the most essential part of the bathroom and it has a long and interesting history. So let’s look at the history of the porcelain throne, the john, the loo, the toilet.

    Early Days

    Ever since man appeared on the earth, we realized that we had to do something with our body waste.  There were different civilizations which dealt with this problem in a variety of ways. The first known flush toilet actually was found in Crete, at the Palace of Knossos, and this dates back to the long ago Bronze Age.

    However, it was in Rome that the experience of the toilet went to the next level.  There were excavations which have been found with toilet blocks for the community. Men sat all together on the open holes so that they were able to go to the bathroom.

    The great thing is that the gushing water had been used beneath these latrines so that the waste was immediately removed. There was a second water channel at the toilet’s foot so that they could wash up. This is how our communal toilets got started, although now they have screens and cubicles to give us more privacy.

    A Myth Debunked

    Chances are that you may have heard that the first flushing toilet was invented by Thomas Crapper.  The truth is that even though he really didn’t invent it, he did have a big part in the development.  Thomas Crapper came from Yorkshire and he designed a toilet with a valve and a siphon.

    This was patented back in 1891 and the company he owned manufactured the water closets. These were accepted all over the United Kingdom in those decades before WWI. This gave rise to the kind of vulgar word often used for describing using the bathroom.

    Actually it’s John Harrington whose claim to fame for inventing the first modern flushing toilet back in the late part of the 16th century. A man who was canny, he created two. The first one was given to her royal majesty, Queen Elizabeth.

    The second one he kept for his own use. He therefore ingratiated himself with the royals and improved his own experience in the bathroom.

    Slopping Out

    For many years, the flushing toilets couldn’t be afforded by common men, they were just for the royalty and the rich. It was very common that the common people to dump out their chamber pots, and sometimes they did it into the street. But during the famous Victorian period, when the flushing toilets were more popular, rivers such as the Thames through the world were just open, stinking sewers, filled with human waste.

    During 1858 in the summer, things got so bad that really big blinds were erected by Parliament. These had been soaked in lime chloride so that the smell was blocked. This was called the famous Great Stink.  With the mass migration of people moving from the country to the city and industrial revolution, the strain that had been put on the natural waterways reached close to the breaking point.

    Going Underground

    Victorians were the ones who made the connection in between disease and unsanitary conditions which the Elizabethans hadn’t discovered. Therefore they started developing municipal, large-scale sewer systems so in an effort to keep the cities cleaner. Around this period, patents were also granted for a few different kinds of valves for water closets. However, the flushing actions weren’t efficient.

    The cisterns that were mounted on the walls which became pretty popular during the 1870s really improved things because there was a lot of water under additional pressure. The bowls in water-closets were still an issue, since their traps weren’t doing the best job of allowing the waste flow down or keeping the sewer gasses from the building.

    These first bowls had been made from earthenware and then glazed using designs that were sometimes elaborate.

    1885 saw the first toilet made from vitreous china by Thomas Twyford. This inspired some competition from some other noteworthy English potteries like Doulton and Wedgwood. Before long, vitreous china was the standard in the growing industry.

    Warming up

    Before WWII, a lot of houses still used outhouses, instead of indoor toilets. Since some of the old Victorian and Georgian housing had been cleared in the era after the war, many people had indoor toilets in the United Kingdom as their attitudes and changed. Nowadays, the thought

    Toilets in the Modern Era

    Now we are to the present, with bathroom retailers offering a lot of designs that are completely modern. Some of them seamlessly blend into any type of bathroom. However, there are also nods to the days gone by, with some companies offering toilets that resemble the ones created and produced by Thomas Crapper.

    Another addition to the toilets of the past is a lot of toilets these days have something known as eco flush, and this reduces the water amount that is used which also reduces waste.

    When you go into the bathroom in your home or in a store, don’t forget about the long history that the porcelain throne has. Where would we be without it? Probably out in the cold and heat. So think about the 2.5 billion souls through the world who are still having to deal with not having clean toilets and facing daily struggles without proper sanitation. Now, the next time you hear the word ‘crapper’ you will know where that word came from. You’ll never think about it the same way again, I can guarantee it. 

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