You sit on one, once a day at least. Ever wondered how it came to be?
Join us for a history lesson in toilets.
Human beings were the meal of choice for anything with sharp teeth. So getting rid of that weird gurgle in the stomach was not just a question of squatting wherever. You had to find a space, like a rock face where hungry Sabretooths couldn’t pounce from behind. Finding a place to do your business was a matter of life and death, literally.
Flowing Water Age – 3300 BC
Human beings had turned to farming. And from Egypt to the Indus Valley, tribal groups had evolved into civilizations with sanitation. Holes in the ground attached to flowing water systems whisked last night’s dinner out into the river.
The Garderobe Age – The 11th Century
The Europeans used to go wherever, whenever till the castle building boom of the 11th century. Obviously the lords and ladies were not expected to expose their noble behinds to the common man. And thus the garderobe or the privy room was born – a small room attached to the castle with a hole that was positioned strategically over a pit or a moat.
The Flushing Toilet Age – 16th Century
Sir John Harrington contributed two things to the world. The Flushing Toilet, which he called the Ajax, and the pseudonym “The John” for the toilet. And it was possibly also the first limited edition toilet ever made. Only two pieces of the Ajax were ever made: one for himself and one for his godmother Queen Elizabeth.
The Porcelain Age – 19th Century
In 1885 Thomas Twyford created the first valve-less toilet made of china, quite different from the metal and wooden ones popular till then. Thomas Crapper who is falsely credited with inventing the toilet, bought the rights to the patent and mass produced the toilet through his company Thomas Crapper & Co Ltd. No prizes for guessing how the toilet came to be known as ‘The Crapper’.
The Ecofriendly age – 21st Century
From toilets that have inbuilt wash basin, to waterless chemical toilets, to toilets that let you choose a background track while you go about your business – we are now living in the golden age of the toilet.
The Space Age – 22nd Century and beyond
To go boldly where no human has gone before will take human ingenuity and technical wizardry. Zero gravity and body waste are two things that just do not go well together. When human beings have evolved to colonise Mars and Jupiter you can rest assured that even the humble toilet will have evolved to take on the challenge.