Friday, June 29, 2007

Fascinating Invention no.14 - The Indoor Flushing Toilet


At school we call them the 'toilets' (see left). Grandpa jack has a 'lavvie'; at home we have a 'loo' and the metal space capsule with the automatic swishing door, in the middle of our market square is a 'W.C.' There are lots of different names for it but they are all the same thing - the indoor flushing toilet.
The boys' toilets at school are always flooding. This is because certain people do not stick to putting the normal stuff into them but like to experiment with stuff like, smuggled out school dinner or Oliver-James' P.E. socks (they are massive) or four million paper towels. Of course, the flush cannot cope and the water floods out causing the caretaker to break out the lifeboats and Mrs Trundle to break out her high-powered assassin's rifle. I think the caretaker should be happy he does not have to deal with clearing out 248 chamber pots or the stinking tanks from outhouses but for some reason he does not seem to appreciate the history lesson.In about 1596 Sir John Harington may have invented the first flushing toilet for Queen Elizabeth 1. He was her godson and while everybody else thought it was a stupid smelly idea, the Queen was supposed to have had a go on one. Nobody can be certain because he did not leave a toilet to put in a museum and they did not catch on; maybe the queen just got annoyed because when it went wrong there were no plumbers around to unblock blockages because Sir John had failed to invent plumbers at the same time. Whatever happened it was not until 1775 that Alexander Cummings got an English patent for putting a water trap under a bowl (see diagram). GENIUS! But this 'wash out' toilet stayed outside the house until the Victorian times when everything changed. The new 'wash down' toilet came with a jet flush. Woo -hoo. There were lots of companies making toilets then and they were all decorated like flowerpots to make you think that going to the toilet was actually quite a fragrant and royal thing to do. In fact this was the time when ordinary people who had been having a poo for centuries, realised that the Queen actually went to the toilet as well. Queen Victoria asked Thomas Crapper's company to install actual toilets in her palace which as well as shocking a great many ordinary people also made Crapper a household name. The toilet has never looked back. My cousin, Jaspar still likes to pee in the back garden which does not please Mum but is one of the things about him that actually does not bother me.

13 comments:

Candy Gourlay said...

the toilet display at the science museum is the one exhibit my children can return to again and again and again ...

suzanabrams said...

What an interesting lively post and pretty quaint bowls to match but with the subject being what it is and the thought of Mrs. Trundle around the scene, I daren't ask the how's and why's of it all.

Richard said...

Blimey! The flushing toilet is one of those things that I literally cannot imagine life without!

And I'd assumed that once Queen Elizabeth had one installed that they'd caught on far and wide: but it wasn't until over 200 years later that they even began to catch on. Ugh-a-rama!

They didn't show that in the episode of Doctor Who when he met Shakespeare, did they?!

Absolute Vanilla... (& Atyllah) said...

I'm told that when men pee on compost heaps it does good things to them (the compost heap, that is!) Perhaps, given that, your mum shouldn't be quite so annoyed at cousin Jaspar...

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Hey Buzz,

Good history flushed right away.

Hope you are doing well!



Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Wilf said...

The toilet exhibition - I must have missed that, too busy taking my children to the toilet...
Addy

Wilf said...

Please do not probe too deeply, Suzan but I thought it was a subject that needed flushing out.

Wilf said...

Do you get Dr Who in the US, Richard? That is good. I think they did show somebody throwing something unmentionable out of a window, I think.

Wilf said...

Maybe if he stuck to the compost heap, it would be alright, Vanilla Atyllah but he is a bit random and leaves yellow patches on the grass.

Wilf said...

Thankyou Wanderlust Scarlett, I am doing as well as can be expected.

Richard said...

Yes they do show Doctor Who over here, on the Sci Fi channel. Phew!

They may well have shown them throwing something nasty out of a window--but I'm pretty sure that it can't have been, well, you-know-what.... can it?

Jack said...

A flushing toilet! What a marvelous idea. I shall look into having one installed forthwith.

Wilf said...

I hope you also know where to get a plumber, Jack.