The history of the toilet might seem like an unusual topic to cover, but today is National Trivia Day so let’s get to the facts! Also, there are quite a few misconceptions about where modern toilets came from and exactly who invented them. Read on and quiz your friends on their plumbing trivia!
An early piece of plumbing trivia came when latrines were used by ancient civilizations. They required a constant flow of water below a city or along the outskirts of a town. This type of “toilet” had a few major disadvantages including the fact that they would fill nearby rivers and lakes with human waste. Other latrines were often nothing more than a hole in the ground that would have to be filled and replaced every few weeks. These systems were not only unpleasant to use, but they were also quite unsanitary.
The First Flushing Toilet
Trivia: It was in 1596 that Sir John Harington described the first flush toilet. Sir Harington outlined a device that would flush over seven gallons of water into a bowl after it had been used a few dozen times. Unfortunately, it would be another 200 years before the first flush toilet was patented by a man named Alexander Cumming. The biggest advantage of Cumming’s patent was the S-shaped pipe that acted as a sealant between the sewer gas and the toilet bowl. These toilets were installed in only a handful of locations such as Queen Elizabeth’s Richmond Palace.
Thomas Crapper was a 19th century London plumber that is often mistaken as the inventor of the first toilet. Instead, Crapper actually applied the principles Cumming’s toilet to modern sewage systems to create an effective and sanitary method to dispose of waste. This includes the use of a ballcock to automatically fill the tanks with fresh water between uses. During World War I, servicemen became accustomed to these modern toilets and brought the technology back to their own countries. How about that for plumbing trivia to share with friends?
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