With at least one in every home, you could be forgiven for not paying too much attention to the toilet! Yet, used daily, this is one bathroom fixture that’s put through its paces and is crucial, if not the most essential part of our bathroom suites. But, have you ever wondered where the idea originated and who invented the toilet?
Here, The Bathroom Showroom presents its next segment from our short informative history series. Every month we discover the history behind some of our wonderful bathroom fittings and fixtures. This month it’s all about the essential toilet.
Who Actually Invented the Toilet?
It’s tricky to pinpoint the exact date that the concept of the very first toilet was actually invented. Experts have discovered through archaeological excavations a 4000-year-old drainage system that suggests they could have been used as toilets in Northwest India. Yet, there are no hard facts as to the very first origins.
Roman Toilets Were a Social Occasion
Toilets were created in rows during Roman times with sewer systems built to ensure waste was carried in nearby rivers and streams. By creating such close and uniformed sections of toilets, called Latrines, Romans could meet up with friends or make new acquaintances and discuss life in general while using the public toilets!
Medieval Times Reverted to Archaic Ways of Using Toilets
Despite the Romans making strides with toilets and plumbing, medieval times saw people shun both their initial toilets and sewer system designs. There were now two different types of toilets and which one you used depended on your status.
For those in castles, closets were created with seats above a hole that overhung the castle's moat. The idea was that all waste would be washed away - at least eventually! For everyone else outside of the castle, chamber pots, or potties as they were known, were used inside the building and emptied into the local street. Unfortunately, for those with no abode, such as peasants, communal areas were designated for them, usually at the end of public streets.
17th and 18th Century Toilets Became Cesspits
By the time the 17th century arrived, and well into the 18th century, those latrines superbly created by the Romans were a distant memory.
During this time, many took to their gardens to create a cesspit where they would bury their waste. Overnight, Night Soil Men would then empty the pits and remove the waste. A few tweaks were made to this design with many then reverting to using privies and outside toilets.
Yet, with so many people sharing these areas, nearby streets and rivers became contaminated with the overflow, resulting in the demand to build new sewer systems in and around the towns and cities. This was undertaken by engineering genius Joseph Bazalgette.
Who Invented the Flush Toilet?
Change was afoot in the 18th century when a Scottish developer named Alexander Cumming patented a design for the first flush toilet. Featuring an ‘s’ bend in its design, Cumming’s ideas still needed some refinement though. So, some years later Joseph Bramah worked on providing a solution that meant when Cumming’s toilet design was used, all waste could be successfully flushed away by utilising the power of gravity!
Victorian Flushing Toilet Facts
Hot on the pursuit of Bramah’s and Cumming’s creations, the Victorian era saw the introduction of the first public flush toilets made possible by George Jennings. Throughout the 19th century, vast improvements were made, particularly as people became more aware of the need for better sanitation for all, not just the select few who could afford it.
Finally, by the late 19th century, Thomas Crapper developed the ball cock, a mechanism that improved the tank filling of toilets which is still used in toilets to this day.
20th Century Toilet Choices Vastly Improved
Fortunately, by the 20th century, the common toilet became firmly rooted as a bathroom essential in all homes. With an increasing amount of bathroom technology, this was the century that saw improved water tanks, flushable valves, and even the introduction of toilet paper rolls!
Modern Day Toilet Choices are Phenomenal
Today's toilet choices provide homeowners with plenty of options to suit personal preferences. From closed coupled toilets and back-to-wall toilets to wall-hung, high-level, and even shower toilets, our choices here can greatly improve the overall look of many a dream bathroom.