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TAKING A CRAP - Bums to the porcelain and puff those cheeks. Going to the toilet was not always such a refined affair, not until Thomas Crapper plumbed in a small tank high on a wall above a ceramic bowl, with a superior siphon release system, in his London showrooms, that the concept really caught on. This was thanks to many English and American inventors, including Thomas Twyford. The above contraption is a treatment plant owned by Southern Water in Victoria Road, just off the A271, near Herstmonceux, East Sussex. 



Where Wealden District Council and the Parish Councillors at Herstmonceux seem content to crap all over the wishes of the people, you may be interested to know where the term comes from.


It was not Thomas Crapper who invented the flushing toilet, but he made many improvements and helped to popularize the porcelain home appliance, with a handle and chain to flush, such that "Going for a Crap," means shitting into a ceramic bowl permanently fixed to the floor and filled with water - inside a room in a house - such as to be plumbed in, and flushing the waste away by pulling a handle. When such waste flows into a sewer system.


In the last 100 years, this is something that many humans take for granted.


It has often been claimed in popular culture that the slang term for human bodily waste, crap, originated with Thomas Crapper because of his association with lavatories. A common version of this story is that American servicemen stationed in England during World War I saw his name on cisterns and used it as army slang: "I'm going to the crapper".





Thomas Crapper (1836 - 1910) was an English businessman and plumber. He founded Thomas Crapper & Co in London, a sanitary equipment company.

As the first man to set up public showrooms for displaying sanitary ware, he became known as an advocate of sanitary plumbing, popularizing the notion of such installations in people's homes. He also helped refine and develop improvements to existing plumbing and sanitary fittings. As a part of his business, he maintained a foundry and metal shop which enabled him to try out new designs and develop more efficient plumbing solutions.

Crapper improved the S-bend trap in 1880. The new U-bend plumbing trap was a significant improvement on the "S" as it could not jam, and unlike the S-bend, it did not have a tendency to dry out and did not need an overflow. The BBC nominated the S-bend as one of the 50 Things That (have) Made the Modern Economy.

Crapper held nine patents, three of them for water closet improvements such as the floating ballcock, but none for the flush toilet itself.

Crapper's advertisements implied the siphon flush was his invention. One such advertisement read "Crapper's Valve-less Water Waste Preventer (Patent #4,990) One movable part only" even though patent 4990 (for a minor improvement to the water waste preventer) was not his, but that of Albert Giblin in 1898. However, Crapper's nephew, George, did improve the siphon mechanism by which the water flow from a small storage container (cistern) starts. A patent for this development was awarded in 1897.







In 1596 Sir John Harrinton (godson) designed a flushing water closet for Queen Elizabeth I, but with the absense of a sewer system it did not catch on with English society, being more of a novelty.

The Victorians made the connection between unsanitary conditions and disease that the Elizabethans hadn't and developed municipal sewer systems to try to keep their cities cleaner. 

Living in the country, an indoor toilet may be convenient, but it isn't essential. In a crowded urban environment, the sanitary disposal of human waste becomes a real problem, and in the absence of sufficient soil to contain and naturally break down human waste, pipes with flowing water was the only other medium available to carry it away to the sewers and then to outfalls, rivers and the sea.

The development of municipal sewage systems in London and Paris in the 18th and 19th centuries was a direct response to the threat of disease from city crowding and inadequate waste disposal.


Before this cities smelled to high heaven.

The equation is simple, one person equals one dump a day, two or more when sick, plus four to ten urinations a day - where the urine helps with the flushing process in a piped sewer system.

The high wall mounted cistern became popular in the 1870s vastly improving the situation because it provided a large volume of water under more pressure from gravity to flush those metal bowls clean.


But water-closet bowls remained a problem, because their rudimentary traps did not do a very good job of letting waste go down the drain or keeping sewer gases from rising up into buildings.

In 1875, James Henry and William Campbell patented a plunger-type water closet; over the next 50 or so years more than 350 applications for patents for various types of water-closet designs were received by the U.S. patent office.

In 1885, Thomas Twyford built the first vitreous china toilet, inspiring competition from other English potteries, including Wedgwood and Doulton.

Widespread contamination of large parts of the world's freshwater supplies is one of the legacies of the modern flush toilet. So the evolution of the toilet continues, necessitated by the need to use less water and so place less of a demand on water resources.

The work begun by Thomas Crapper and the others isn't over yet.




GRAVITY FED - The high mounted cistern coupled with a siphon release, allowed a good flow of water to flush the turds away, via a 'P' trap.




JUNE 2020 - Pooh passage along the A271, is designed to carry human excrement from Shit Creek along Chapel Row and Victoria Street to Southern Water's treatment plant number 101645.












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