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Jan 27, 2022

Today is Thomas Crapper Day!

Thomas Crapper was a plumber in the late 19th century who founded Thomas Crapper & Co. Ltd. in London. He is widely (but erroneously) credited with invention of the flush toilet.

Thomas Crapper’s date of birth is unknown but a record exists of his baptism in Thorne, Yorkshire, on September 28, 1836. He died January 27, 1910 so that date every year is dedicated to his memory because of all he did for England and the rest of the world.

Actually, Crapper did not invent the flushing toilet. It was invented by John Harington in 1596 but it never achieved much success commercially. Most people had never seen a flush toilet until after the 1880s. Crapper improved the design and used his skills as a shrewd businessman and salesperson to make it extremely popular. His company, Thomas Crapper & Co, owned the world’s first bath, toilet and sink showroom, in King’s Road, London, England.

The manhole covers in Westminster Abbey still have the Crapper Company name on them. They are a common tourist attraction in England.

Thomas Crapper

The slang term for human bodily waste, crap, would appear to be derived from Thomas Crapper’s name but such an assumption would be in error. The word appears to be much older and appeared in other languages long before Thomas Crapper was born. In English, its first application to bodily waste, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, appeared in 1846 under a reference to a crapping ken, or a privy, where ken means a house.

Contrary to popular myth, Thomas Crapper was never knighted, and thus was not entitled to use the term “Sir” before his name. There is no record of his ever using the title. The first references to SIR Thomas Crapper appeared long after his death.

While Crapper may not be the inventor of the product he is most often associated with, his contribution to England’s plumbing history is significant. Let’s celebrate Thomas Crapper Day today and take a moment to appreciate all that he did for the promotion of sanitary plumbing. The world would be very different without his salesmanship and the promotion of his products.