The Edmondson Blog

Thomas P. Crapper

Today is the 100th anniversary of the death of that well known Englishman, Thomas P. Crapper (baptised 28 September 1836 - died 27 January 1910).

He was the plumber who founded Thomas Crapper & Co. Limited, the sanitaryware company. Contrary to widespread misconceptions, Mr Crapper did not invent the flushing W.C. nor was his name shortened for vulgar use, although, interestingly, etymologists attest that the Amercian word crapper, meaning the W.C. is directly from his name.

He relentlessly promoted sanitary fittings to a somewhat dirty and sceptical world. Indeed, he invented the bathroom showroom and displayed his wares behind large plate glass windows. This caused quite a stir and it is said that ladies observing the china bowls in the windows became faint at this shocking sight.

Mr. Crapper's inventiveness was well known. One less successful invention was a spring-loaded loo seat which, as the encumbent arose, leapt up pulling rods which automatically flushed the cistern. Unfortunately, over time, the rubber buffers on the underside of the seat would begin to perish, and became sticky. This caused the seat to remain down, attached to the loo pan for a few seconds as the user got to his feet. Seconds later the seat, under stress from the powerful springs, would free itself and sweep violently upwards - striking the unfortunate Victorian on the bare bottom. The device became popularly known as the Bottom Slapper. It was not a commercial triumph.

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