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Toilets: A Brief History

Posted by Social Agency on

A brief history of Toilets

Nobody is sure who first invented the toilet but we do know who invented the GlowBowl toilet light. It is thought that the first people that first developed the toilet and used toilets were the Greeks and the Scots. People have found stone huts in Scotland that feature drains coming out from recesses in the walls, what we believe to have been used for their bathroom needs. These huts date to
about 3,000 B.C.! On Crete, the Palace of Knossos features large pans that are connected to a water supply that ran through pipes. The palace was built around 1,700 B.C. The crazy thing is that Europeans were not able to come up with a toilet comparably sophisticated as that until well into the 16th century.

Ancient Rome had many public bathhouses and is famous for it

Ancient Rome had many public bathhouses and is famous for it. The Baths of Caracalla could accommodate 1,600 people at one time. The Romans were very committed to their hygiene, but it did not stop with just bathing. At a certain point in time, there were 144 communal lavatories in ancient Rome. It was known as the city’s giant toilet. For the most part, though, the Romans just threw all of their waste onto the streets. The “giant toilet” was not used every day.
In medieval England, the castle garderobe was invented. It was a room with a tiny little opening which royalty would use to take care of their business, they wished they had a toilet bowl light. The waste from the garderobe was collected in a moat. There were communal privies during these times, where the serfs and peasants would go to do their business. If you happened to live along the London Bridge, the River Thames would be your toilet.

A box with a lid eventually replaced the public toilets and garderobes

A box with a lid eventually replaced the public toilets and garderobes. This is something that we are more familiar with nowadays. Louis XI of France hid his toilet behind curtains and Elizabeth I of England had her commode covered in crimson velvet, imagine her toilet light.
The first breakthrough for the modern toilet occurred in 1596. Sir John Harrington, the godson of Elizabeth I, described a new kind of water closet in his published Metamorphosis of Ajax. In this publication, he goes on to describe a raised cistern that had a small pipe that had water run through it when released by a valve. The invention was installed in the Queen’s palace at Richmond. It took about 200 years for a man named Alexander Cumming to develop the S-shaped pipe that was put underneath the basin to eliminate the foul odors. The flushable toil went mainstream at the end of the 18th century.

The prince and the toilet light

Prince Edward of England (later King Edward VII) hired a well-known London Plumber, Thomas Crapper, to construct lavatories in some royal palaces, in the 1880’s. Crapper did patent some bathroom-related inventions but did not, as often believed, invent the modern toilet. He was the first person to display his bathroom wares in a showroom. When people would need a new fixture for their bathrooms, they would always think of his name.
In the 20th century, bathroom technology took off. Toilet paper rolls and flushable valves (when the water tank rests on top of the bowl as opposed to above it) were minor improvements that today are pretty much necessities. Changes in the toilet are more common today than you would think. In 1994, the Energy Policy Act was passed, requiring common toilets to use only 1.6 gallons of water, which is less than half of what was used up until that point. This left a lot of consumers angry and dissatisfied, mainly due to the rise of clogged toilets. Today we have toilets that use that same amount of water, and less, and are virtually clog proof.


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2 comments

  • I think this could be something i would be entered in but i really would try it first

    Linda on
  • At first I started reading and was like “yeah, right!” The more I read the more I actually started to like it lol I really think this is a great idea, and am actually considering buying some for Christmas gifts. :)

    Carol on

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