Thomas Crapper Day: He did not invent the toilet

Cheryl Phillips's picture

The Internet is buzzing with big information this morning: It's Thomas Crapper Day and there is some rumor that he invented the toilet. Of course, it would make a great story if that were actually true, but it's not. Thomas Crapper, who died on January 27, 1910 was a plumber but he did not invent the toilet.

Long before Thomas Crapper was born, the toilet was invented. No one is sure of when Crapper was born but he was baptized in 1836. The flushing toilet was invented by John Harrington in 1596. Joseph Bramah of Yorkshire patented the first practical "water closet" in England in 1778. Then there was Edward Jennings who in 1852 also took out a patent for the flush-out toilet.

So, why isn't there national John Harrington Day for the man who actually invented the flushing toilet? Likely because the name Thomas Crapper has such a ring to it and it makes far better news than John Harrington Day would.

What exactly did Thomas Crapper do besides have an interesting name?

In the 1880s, Prince Edward asked Mr. Crapper, who owned the plumbing company, Thomas Crapper & Co. to supply the plumbing, including thirty lavatories with cedarwood seats and enclosures for his home.

Crapper held nine patents, three of them for "water closet improvements" such as the floating ballcock. None of these patents were for inventing the flush toilet. If anything, he's known for making improvements to toilets and for his invention of the ballcock. Interesting.

January 27 is celebrated as Thomas Crapper Day, the day this plumber died. Interestingly he really did contribute to furthering the modernization of the toilet but it is certain that his name has given him more of a boost in popularity than his plumbing talents. Had his name been "Smith" or "Jones" it's likely no one would be celebrating today.

Written by Cheryl Phillips


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
When did thomas Crapper invent the ballcock

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