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Thomas Crapper’s Impact on the Modern Toilet

Jun 29, 2018  |  By Brham Trim (Red Deer)  |  Toilets


It is a common misconception that Thomas Crapper, a historical plumber active in the 19th century, invented the modern flush toilet. In reality, the indoor flush toilet can be traced back hundreds of years earlier to Sir John Harington. Though while he may not have invented the toilet, Thomas Crapper is an important historical figure in his own right.

In his day, Crapper was a practising sanitary engineer and plumber in England, and significant proponent of sanitary plumbing. His promotion of sanitary fittings such as the ‘waste-water-prevention cistern syphon’ helped popularize the indoor flush toilet. He is credited with opening the world’s first showroom for bathroom fittings, and held nine patents for improvements to plumbing systems and related innovations.

Crapper’s reputation for quality plumbing drew the attention of royalty, and was contracted to supply the plumbing for Sandringham, Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey.

Some American servicemen stationed in London during World War I, upon seeing Crapper’s name on many toilets, took to calling them ‘crappers,’ and the nickname has stuck to this day. Perhaps this slang term is one reason for Crapper being associated with the invention of the toilet.

The word ‘crap’ – referring to bodily waste – however, draws its inspiration not from Thomas Crapper, but instead can be traced back to Middle English.

Even though Crapper was not the direct inventor of the indoor flush toilet, his reputation of quality plumbing combined with his innovations in the industry have ensured his name in the history books.

More information about Thomas Crapper