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Even More Fascinating Plumbing Facts


Plumbing has seriously changed throughout the centuries.

Image via Shutterstock.

Plumbing, like most of our oldest professions, has a lot of interesting history and developments that may shock, stun or maybe just gross you out a little bit. Impress friends or foes with G.F. James’ plumbing facts!

Flushing toilets have been around for much longer than you may think. Though Crete’s King Minos is often accredited to having the first flusher in 18th century B.C., it was actually the Skara Brae people (Britain’s oldest known Neolithic village) who can claim this throne, having had their own primitive flush system about 1, 200 years before Minos.

Even though it was the Neoliths of Britain that can claim the first flushing toilet, it was clearly not a long lasting plumbing trend. Up until the 18th century, most European city dwellers were using chamber pots to catch bodily wastes and then threw the contents out into the street, where they would mix with horse droppings and other waste.

The flush-and-fill mechanism which is now used in almost all modern toilets was initially created for a hand washing device by al-Jazari, an Arab inventor in 2016 A.D.

It took urban planners all the way up until the late 19th century to install sewers and clean water systems in their communities, after the germ theory of disease was discovered.

The modern closed tank and bowl toilet only started to replace the older elevated tank design around 1910.

Toilet paper as we know it today (that is, on a roll, separated into individual sheets) were not in existence until 1857. Wondering how people cleaned their bits before that? Well, with whatever was available at the time!

Hitchcock fan? His film Psycho (1960) was the first Hollywood film to show a toilet flushing. On the smaller screen, the first toilet to appear on TV was on  Leave it to Beaver, which ran from 1957 to 1963.

Most Western toilets flush in the key of E flat (we’re yet to try this out, though).

Got a kick out of these plumbing facts? Check out our last post on plumbing facts here:

Geoff James
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Geoff grew up in Berala near Lidcombe in Sydney and attended Birrong Boys High School where he finished his Year 10 school certificate. Geoff was encouraged by his uncle to consider plumbing as he had done a bit of plumbing work on weekends during his school years. DJ Childs Plumbing in Canterbury offered him a plumbing apprenticeship and he spent most of his time working on plumbing maintenance and new roofs on commercial sites. Geoff on Google+.