Thomas Crapper Did Not Invent The Flush Toilet

Despite what the “Fun Facts” section of my apartment’s newsletter says:

Crapper was born in Waterside, Yorkshire (near Thorne), in September 1836 (the exact date is unknown). His father Charles was a steamboat captain. At the age of 14, Crapper was apprenticed to a master plumber in Chelsea, London. After his apprenticeship and three years as a journeyman plumber, in 1861 he founded his own company at Robert Street, Chelsea. In 1866 he moved the business to nearby Marlborough Road (now part of Draycott Avenue).

Thomas Crapper did not invent the flush toilet — credit is usually given to Sir John Harington in 1596, with Alexander Cummings’ 1775 toilet regarded as the first of the modern line — but he did popularise it. He was a shrewd businessman, salesman and self-publicist. In a time when bathroom fixtures were barely spoken of, he heavily promoted sanitary plumbing and pioneered the concept of the bathroom fittings showroom.