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The Toilet and Thomas Crapper

Feb 08, 2019  |  By Brham Trim (Edmonton)  |  Toilets


The historical plumber Thomas Crapper is occasionally credited with the invention of the flush toilet. However, this distinction actually belongs to Sir John Harington hundreds of years earlier. That said, Crapper does deserve recognition for several advancements in indoor plumbing.

Operating as a plumber and sanitary engineer during the 1800s in England, Crapper played an important role in popularizing the indoor flush toilet. He championed the ‘waste-water-preventing cistern syphon’ and other sanitary bathroom fittings, and was the first to open a showroom to display them. He is also credited with nine patents for plumbing improvements.

Perhaps Crapper’s biggest honour was being commissioned to provide the plumbing for British royals at Sandringham, Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey.

The slang term ‘crap’ is often associated with Crapper, however the word is found historically as far back as the 16th century! That said, Crapper’s name appearing on toilets in Britain did inspire London-stationed American servicemen to refer to the water closet as the ‘crapper,’ a nickname that has survived the passage of time. Maybe the reason Crapper is sometimes credited for inventing the toilet comes from this nickname.

Thomas Crapper’s inventions and innovations in the plumbing industry, along with his reputation for quality plumbing practices, have helped secure his place in the history books, even if he didn’t actually invent the indoor flush toilet.

More information about Thomas Crapper