For most of us, our day would not be complete without a shower. Our morning showers energise us for the day ahead. Then, they help us to wash away the day's stresses as we wind down for the evening.
A crucial part of the bathroom for many of us, a shower is a central element of our bathroom suite. But have you ever considered how showers first originated and how they evolved into the spectacular model we now have in our homes?
Here, The Bathroom Showroom carries on its short informative series. Each month we delve into the history of our much loved bathroom fixtures. This month it’s the turn of the shower.
Showers Can Be Traced Back As Far As The Stone Age
The first showers were created by an entirely natural formation - that of an actual waterfall! Favoured by tribes, those looking to clean themselves in the stone age would search for their nearest waterfall or area offering a powerful blast of water. Fantastic for both cleaning and cleansing, this was the most efficient means of fresh washing as opposed to standing water from rivers and lakes.
Ancient Egyptians Coined the Phase ‘Shower-Jug’
During Ancient Egyptian times, this concept of washing under a waterfall progressed to washing with jugs. Namely that of servants who would pour jugs of water over those fortunate to be able to bathe in their own homes. However, this water was very cold, so perhaps not always the most comforting of showers was had! Yet, they certainly kept cleaner than those without access to jugs.
The Greeks Made Showering a Social Art
Taking the shower jug to the next level, many consider the Greeks the real inventors of the shower. Now with access to running water and sewage systems, the Greeks introduced a showering system that utilised aqueducts. Considered more of social activity, many bath houses provided shower rooms that were made accessible to more members of the public, as opposed to just a select few. This was all the more evident when the Greeks further added water spouts to the sides of fountains, creating a variety of outdoor showers.
The Dark Ages Once More Plunged Showers into Disrepair
Sadly, the concept of showering came to be viewed as a religious taboo as medieval times arrived. With some practicing Christians believing good hygiene to signal a sign of vanity, keeping clean was no longer promoted. So, most public bathing areas were left to fall into disrepair and, like so many other Roman creations, so too did showers. Unfortunately, this period of uncleanliness coincided with the bubonic plague in the 14th century.
William Feetham Was The 18th Century Shower Saviour
Though after the Black Death, attitudes regarding cleaning began to change for the better, it took until 1767 for the concept of the shower to make its much-needed appearance once more. Designing and building the world's first mechanical shower, William Feetham's contraption certainly paid homage to that waterfall sensation once more. But, though it consisted of a basin to stand in and an overhead tank from which to pour water, the result was cold and dirty water each time the system was pumped.
The Regency Era Extended On Feetham’s Design
All was not lost with Feetham’s original design though when in the 19th century, the English regency expanded on this to produce what was heralded the first designer shower. Taking much of Feetham’s plans but upgrading it visually, designer showers now provided warm water via the basin. Yet, unfortunately, these shower types were once again predominantly bought and used by the wealthy.
Indoor Plumbing in the Mid 20th Century Heralded a New Era for Showers
With the introduction of indoor plumbing, showers really began to gain more popularity in the mid 20th century. Featuring a reliable plumbing system, fresh water was now available when showering. This meant showers could be connected to a running water source to create a freestanding shower space. Ultimately, this made them all the easier to use and operate and, therefore, a more practical means of keeping clean.
20th Century Showers Became A Necessity
The 20th century marked the arrival of the electric shower, and this is where things got interesting. With more and more of us being able to install these in our homes, no longer was the shower a selective cleaning choice. With the ability to supply instant hot water without relying on a hot water tank, as bathrooms become more a necessity than a luxury, improved technology meant that over 60% of households benefited from their own shower.
Current Day Shower Choices in the 21st Century Are Magnificent
The shower has certainly been tweaked over time to become an immensely practical and fabulous permanent bathroom fixture. Yet, still many 21st-century models continue to pay homage to that natural stone age creation.