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Thomas Crapper and the Toilet

Mar 01, 2019  |  By Brham Trim (Calgary)  |  Toilets

Thomas Crapper is sometimes credited with inventing the flush toilet. While his involvement with indoor plumbing – toilets included – was significant, the honour of the actual invention of the modern flush toilet goes to Sir John Harington.

Crapper was a notable plumber and sanitary engineer in 19th Century England, and while may not have invented it, played a role in the popularization of the indoor flush toilet. He heavily promoted sanitary bathroom fittings, including the ‘waste-water-preventing cistern syphon.’

Crapper’s accomplishments include nine patents that improved indoor plumbing, pioneering the bathroom fittings showroom, and providing the indoor plumbing for Britain’s royalty at Sandringham, Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey.

While his name has been associated with a slang term for human waste, the term ‘crap’ actually predates Mr. Crapper by hundreds of years. His name appearing on water closets in the UK did, however, inspire American soldiers stationed in London to use the term ‘crapper’ as slang for toilet. The misconception that Crapper invented from the toilet possibly stems from this.

While Thomas Crapper did not invent the toilet, his other inventions, innovations, and quality plumbing practices have secured his place as an important historical plumber.

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