• Question: who invented the toilet?

    Asked by brandonmc2013 to Angela, Gabriele, Karen, Maria, Shane on 19 Nov 2013.
    • Photo: Karen McCarthy

      Karen McCarthy answered on 19 Nov 2013:

      Well Brandon I hadn’t a clue actually when you asked this question so I did some reading….and apparently its a controversial question!

      It seems a British nobleman, Sir John Harrington was the first person to create a flushing device to remove waste from houses. Following on from this, the hilariously named Thomas Crapper (!) was a plumber who had many patents surrounding similar ideas to the flushing toilet. Alexander Cummings was another key player, who designed the S-block part of the toilet, which prevented sewer gases from travelling back up from the toilet!


    • Photo: Angela Stevenson

      Angela Stevenson answered on 19 Nov 2013:

      Great question Brandon! The flush toilet was perhaps one of the best inventions of our time – without toilets in our homes to dispose of human waste, we would still be living in a brutal age of cholera, dysentery, typhus and typhoid fever (all very nasty illnesses that brutally killed many people each year). As mentioned by Karen, the flush toilet was invented, and re-invented, many times. They actually first appeared indoors over 4,000 years ago. The Romans built their ‘toilets’ over drains carrying running water that discharged into a fetid Tiber. Also, rumor has it that Queen Elizabeth I’s godson (Sir John Harrington) had built her a a flush toilet, but she was apparently too embarrassed to use it for fear that the roar of the rushing water would inform the palace of the royal bowels being evacuated! The father of the modern toilet was not, as myth would have it, Thomas Crapper. It is Alexander Cummings, a watchmaker, who was granted the first patent for a flush toilet in 1775. Not everyone today has a flush toilet, but it has done billions a great service 🙂 Hope that helps!

    • Photo: Shane Mc Guinness

      Shane Mc Guinness answered on 19 Nov 2013:

      What a great invention it was too! Unfortunately, as Angela says, we are very lucky in Ireland and other wealthy places to have these inventions or enough water to use them! There are a lot of people who just use a “long-drop” toilet, which is a hole in the ground with a wooden plank which you stand on…. And it can pretty slippy in my experience!