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Did you Know?

Here are some little known facts about Thomas Crapper & Co Ltd and Lavatories in general!

1. In Britain, many people think the word' lavatory' is the correct term to describe the Water Closet, but in fact it means a washbasin!

1a. The word 'lavatory' is derived from the Latin, 'lavare', to wash. In the nineteenth century people would ask 'Where is your lavatory?' (that is, 'Where may I wash my hands?') when they really wished to use the loo but they were too embarrassed to mention it.

2. There is no proper term for the W.C. in English. Most of the words we use are euphemisms, such as 'lavatory' (actually means 'washbasin'); 'toilet' (performing ones toilette, e.g. washing the face, brushing hair or teeth, etc.); 'Water Closet' (a cupboard furnished with running water). The rest are generally vulgarisms.

3. In the 1990s, NASA spent $30 million on developing new space-loos for the convenience of their astronauts when in zero gravity.

4. Alexander Cummings is often cited as the 'inventor' of the flushing W.C., in the year 1775, but he was simply the first to apply successfully for a patent for a loo. Furthermore, his patent was merely for 'improvements' to an existing flushing apparatus.

5. The Reverend Henry Moule invented the world's first 'eco-loo' in 1860. Called the Earth Closet, it was device that flushed dry earth, not water, and was a great success for decades.

6. The world's first public lavatory was built by George Jennings at the Great Exhibition in London, 1851. A white-coated attendant charged each user a penny, from which we have the term 'spend a penny'. By the end of the exhibition the receipts totalled £2,441, when there were 240 pennies in the pound!

7. It is believed that the first commercially-available toilet paper was introduced in New York in 1857, by Messrs. Gayety's Medicated Paper Co..

8. If all the rolls of loo paper used in Great Britain over twelve months were laid end to end, the strip produced would reach further than Mars. However, the average American uses more than twice as much W.C. paper as the average Briton!

9. The Scott Paper Company of Philadelphia is believed to have introduced rolls of lavatory paper in 1879. Previously, it was supplied in square sheets, in cardboard boxes.

10. In nineteenth-century London, much of the ordure from water closets, privies and chamber pots drained into the rivers, and thence into the Thames, which became a vast open sewer. Summer 1858 was unusually hot, and the smell from the Thames caused Parliament to rise early because of the unbearable stench. It became known as 'The Great Stink'.

11. Thomas Crapper is sometimes incorrectly referred to as 'Sir Thomas Crapper'. In fact he was not knighted, but he manufactured and supplied water closets, baths, washbasins, showers etc. to the royal family for many years. In total he and his firm held no less than four royal warrants.

12. Thomas Crapper had no middle name, despite the insistent claims by some people that he was Thomas John Crapper. Equally, it is not the case that the North Americans derived the word 'John' (meaning W.C.) from him.

13. There are several people around the world who claim to be direct descendants of Thomas Crapper. In fact Thomas and his wife Maria had only one son, who died in infancy. Nevertheless, Thomas's branch of the Crapper family is quite extensive, as there are many descendants of his seven siblings!

14. Visitors can find Thomas Crapper's name in the floor of Westminster Abbey in London, alongside kings, queens, poets, authors and military commanders. He is not buried there, but Crapper & Co. re-laid the Abbey's drains in the 19 th century. His name appears on four cast-iron manhole covers; tourists are often seen taking wax- rubbings of these, as mementos of their visit!

15. Thomas Crapper's first royal warrant resulted from his appointment by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) to manufacture, supply and install the bathrooms and drainage at Sandringham. The contract included thirty Water Closets with high-level cisterns. The bowls were completely panelled-in with bare, unsealed cedar. The fresh, antiseptic smell of this fragrant wood filled each room when the servants scrubbed the seats.

16. Thomas Crapper opened the world's first bathroom show-room in London in the 1870s. Many of the W.C. sets on display were plumbed-in, so that cutomers could inspect the power of the flushes.

17. Three-quarters of sewer blockages are caused by items that should not be flushed down the WC, including tampons, sanitary towels, razor blades, plasters and face wipes.

18. We visit the loo on average 2,500 times in a year. In all, we spend around three years of our life on the lavatory!

19. The drain from your house to the sewer is only four inches wide. If you block it as a result of flushing away sanitary towels, plasters, razor blades etc., the water company will charge you a heavy price to dig it up and clear it!

20. In 1935, one British manufacturer of toilet paper advertised their product as 'splinter-free'!


21. Most loos flush in the key of E flat.