There is one household invention which we all use several times a day, without paying it any consideration, or giving it the respect it deserves. That is the noble toilet.
An article, written by Leon Jones, featured in the Harton Handbook discussing this invention in a great amount of detail; reviewing its history, from invention, through to present day. We thought we’d share some of the key moments in toilet history with you, so that in future you know how many centuries are hidden behind every flush….
Most people associated the invention of he toilet with Thomas Crapper, something which we’re sure they favour for obvious reasons! Mr Crapper’s lifetime is dated to around the 19th Century, and he actually had very little to do with its invention, as the beloved toilet’s life began a long time earlier.
The first hint of a toilet was found on the Island of Crete, in 4000 year old ruins, followed by evidence in China, at around 400BC. But, like most practical inventions, the more modern day flushing toilet that we’re familiar with begins with the Romans….
Archaeologists found evidence in all manner of Roman ruins, such as homes (or villas) and forts, of systems solely designed to carry away human waste. The city of Rome itself soon became even more civilised, with the implementation of wooden-seated latrines; built over drains, they held the basic form of the modern-day loos we are all familiar with!
Unfortunately, at this stage, instead of the world replicating this hygienic and forward-thinking process, toilets were lost as the Dark Ages came upon us. In a less sophisticated time, it wasn’t until the Middle Ages emerged, and the Normans started to build castles across Britain, that the notion of toilets become addressed again.
The Normans had ‘garde-robes’, which took waste from their castles, and out into the moat. In addition to this, chamber pots were also common place, which allowed people to toss their waste out of their home (and out of the window) and into the streets outside.
The appearance of a water-flushed toilet was brought about, the article stated, from the Queen, Elizabeth I’s grandson, Sir John Harrington. Harrington created a ‘water closet’, which he designed back in 1596, to be placed in Richmond Palace. This water closet had the function to flush, and took the waste away and into a separate chamber of the mechanism, so it was hidden from the user. Although this had to be emptied regularly, in a similar way to the traditional chamber pot, but it wasn’t long before this could be combined with the Romans’ draining system, to make our old friend the lav’.
In 1891, when Prince Albert died of typhoid fever, the lack of toilet had become too much for Queen Victoria. She decreed that something permanently had to be done, and soon after sewerage and water systems were installed throughout Britain. It has therefore only been about 150 years since flushing lavatories were a common fixture in homes!
So what has the toilet done for us? Well, for one, it has helped the health and hygiene of the world like nothing else. Before its invention, there was a time of cholera and dysentery, brought about by the ingestion of infected water. By removing human waste from our homes, thousands of lives have been spared from these diseases, and the quality of life has increased exponentially!
At Newlife, we can provide businesses with comprehensive washroom cleaning services, which will help to keep the toilets in your premises as clean and hygienic as possible. If you would like to know more, you are welcome to contact us and speak to a member of our team, on 0800 0189099.