Did Thomas Crapper Invent the Flush Toilet?
Is His Name the Origin of the Word "Crap"?
No, and No
Thomas Crapper was an English plumber and industrialist, but he was not the inventor of the flush toilet. The modern flush toilet design dates back to 1596, 240 years before Thomas Crapper's birth in 1836. English patents for flush toilets were issued in the 1770s. Public toilets were installed in England in 1854, when Crapper was just 18. And as for the word "crap", it has been used in English since 1440, based on Middle English crappe which came from earlier Dutch and Old French words, which in turn came from medieval Latin.
Toilets have been around at least since 3,500 BC when the Neolithic settlers of Skara Brae on the Orkney Islands off the northern coast of Scotland built toilet chambers at the corners of their stone homes.
Those late Stone Age toilets had a drainage system to remove waste, although it is unclear whether they had a true water flushing system or not. A flushing system connected to a common sewage disposal system existed by 2,600 BC in the cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa in the Indus Valley Civilization. The Minoan civilization on Crete and Thera had flushing toilets by 1,800 BC.
Above is a compact private toilet in a First Class sleeper compartment on the City Night Line. A similarly small compartment houses a private shower.
My collection of Czech plumbing includes both stationary toilets and sinks, and a wide variety of train toilets.
It's Thomas Crapper's birthday!
53 days until World Toilet Day
Welcome to the Toilets of the World, where you can view toilets from all around the world. Are you wondering how to use a bidet, or even what a bidet is? Curious about what the toilets are like in a specific country such as France, Turkey, China, Greece, Japan, or many others? Would you like to see some of the worst toilets in the world? Or maybe you're interested in historical toilets, from ancient Greece and Rome, or even the Stone Age? Do you wonder who invented the flush toilet? (It wasn't Thomas Crapper) You've come to the right place! The Toilets of the World are ready for your visit. Learn about toilets, bidets, urinals, sinks, tubs, and other plumbing from all around the world.
Tour the Toilets!
Belgium Bulgaria China France Greek Islands Japan Turkey Trinidad Russia and many others
The Stone Age Ancient Greece Ancient Rome Bible era King Arthur's England Invention of the flush toilet To the toilets of the future
The Ottoman Sultan Woodrow Wilson Leon Trotsky Winston Churchill Adolf Hitler Dwight Eisenhower Robert Kennedy and others
William Shakespeare Edgar Allan Poe Vincent Van Gogh Jim Morrison Hunter S Thompson Tom Wolfe Lady Gaga and others
Did Thomas Crapper invent the flush toilet? Should I squat or sit? Should I wipe or wash? Where do I put used paper, in the bowl or in the bin? When did public toilets become segregated by sex? What is a bidet? What is a toilet snorkel? Should I incinerate my sewage in the basement?
Keep This Book In Your Bathroom
Rose George's The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters is a fascinating description of sanitation conditions around the world. To quote from the introduction:
[....] 2.6 billion people don't have sanitation.
I don't mean that they have no toilet in their house
and must use a public one with queues and fees.
Or that they have an outhouse, or a rickety shack that
empties into a filthy drain or pigsty.
All that counts as sanitation, though not a safe variety.
The people who have those are the fortunate ones.
Four in ten people have no access to any latrine,
toilet, bucket, or box.
Instead they defecate by train tracks and in forests.
They do it in plastic bags and fling them through the
air in narrow slum alleyways.
If they are women, they get up at 4 A.M. to be able to
do their business under cover of darkness for reasons
of modesty, risking rape and snakebites.
Four in ten people live in situations where they are
surrounded by human excrement because it is in the bushes
outside the village by in their city yards, left
by children outside the backdoor.
It is tramped back in on their feet, carried on fingers
onto clothes, food, and drinking water.|
[....] Poor sanitation, bad hygiene, and unsafe water — usually unsafe because it has fecal particles in it — cause one in ten of the world's illnesses. [....] Diarrhea — nearly 90 percent of which is caused by fecally contaminated food or water — kills a child every fifteen seconds. The number of children who have died from diarrhea in the last decade [1998-2008] exceeds the total number of people killed by armed conflict since the Second World War.
Test your lavatorial knowledge with our new toilet quizzes!Quiz #1: International Toilets Quiz #2: Flying Toilets
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