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Thomas Crapper

Thomas Crapper
Born Baptised 28 September 1836
Waterside, Thorne, Yorkshire, England
Died 27 January 1910(1910-01-27) (aged 73)
Anerley, Bromley, England
Occupation Industrialist, plumber
Spouse(s) Maria Green (1837–1902)[1]
Parents Charles Crapper (father)

Thomas Crapper (baptised 28 September 1836; died 27 January 1910) was a plumber who founded Thomas Crapper & Co in London. Contrary to widespread misconceptions, Crapper did not invent the flush toilet. He did, however, do much to increase the popularity of the toilet, and developed some important related inventions, such as the ballcock. He was noted for the quality of his products and received several royal warrants.

Manhole covers with Crapper's company's name on them in Westminster Abbey are now one of London's minor tourist attractions.[2][3] Thomas Crapper & Co owned the world's first bath, toilet and sink showroom, in King's Road until 1966. The firm's lavatorial equipment was manufactured at premises in nearby Marlborough Road (now Draycott Avenue).


  • Company 1
  • Siphonic flush toilet 2
  • Origin of the word "crap" 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6


Manhole cover, inscribed "T Crapper & Co Sanitary Engineers Marlboro Works Chelsea London"

Crapper was born in Chelsea. After his apprenticeship and three years as a journeyman plumber, in 1861 Crapper set himself up as a sanitary engineer, with his own brass foundry and workshops in nearby Marlborough Road.[1]


  • Thomas Crapper at
  • Thomas Crapper & Co. Ltd. - the plumbing company founded by Thomas Crapper

External links

  • Reyburn, Wallace (2010). Flushed With Pride: The Story of Thomas Crapper. Polperro Heritage Press.  

Further reading

  1. ^ a b c McConnell, Anita (2004), "Crapper, Thomas (1837–1910)", Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, retrieved 10 November 2008  (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  2. ^ Goddard, Donald (26 May 1985), "Group Walks Gain Ground in London", New York Times, retrieved 2 March 2009 
  3. ^ Thomas Crapper history, Westminster Abbey, Sandringham &c., Thomas Crapper & Co., 24 January 2004, retrieved 2 February 2009 
  4. ^ Krinsky, William L. (2 March 1999), "Of Facts and Artifacts", New York Times, retrieved 2 March 2009 
  5. ^ Wilson, Blake (16 December 2008), "Tom the Plumber", New York Times, retrieved 2 March 2009 
  6. ^ Hume, Robert (January 2010), "Thomas Crapper: Lavatory Legend", BBC History Magazine (Stone Publishing House 2009),  
  7. ^ Hart-Davis, Adam, Thomas Crapper – Fact and Fiction, ExNet, retrieved 13 May 2010 
  8. ^ GB 189804990, Giblin, Albert, "Improvements in Flushing Cisterns", published 1 March 1898, issued 9 April 1898 
  9. ^ GB 189700724, Crapper, George & Robert Marr Wharam, "Improvements in or relating to Automatic Syphon Flushing Tanks", published 11 January 1897, issued 6 March 1897  actually an 1897 patent
  10. ^ a b c World Wide Words 


The word crap is actually of Middle English origin and predates its application to bodily waste. Its most likely etymological origin is a combination of two older words, the Dutch krappen: to pluck off, cut off, or separate; and the Old French crappe: siftings, waste or rejected matter (from the medieval Latin crappa, chaff).[10] In English, it was used to refer to chaff, and also to weeds or other rubbish. 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.[10]

It has often been claimed in popular culture that the slang term for human bodily waste, crap, originated with Thomas Crapper because of his association with lavatories. The most common version of this story is that American servicemen stationed in England during World War I saw his name on cisterns and used it as army slang, i.e. "I'm going to the crapper".[10]

Origin of the word "crap"

Crapper held nine patents, three of them for water closet improvements such as the floating siphon mechanism by which the water flow is started. A patent for this development was awarded in 1898.[9]

Crapper's Valveless Waste Preventer

Siphonic flush toilet

In 1966 the company was sold by then owner Robert G. Wharam (son of Robert Marr Wharam) on his retirement, to their rivals John Bolding & Sons. Bolding went into liquidation in 1969. The company fell out of use until it was acquired by Simon Kirby, a historian and collector of antique bathroom fittings, who relaunched the company in Stratford-upon-Avon, producing authentic reproductions of Crapper's original Victorian bathroom fittings.[6]

In 1904, Crapper retired, passing the firm to his nephew George and his business partner Robert Marr Wharam. Crapper lived at 12 Thornsett Road, Anerley, for the last six years of his life and died on 27 January 1910. He was buried in the nearby Elmers End Cemetery.[1]

In the 1880s, Prince Edward (later Prince of Wales and as king.

Thomas Crapper Branding on one of his company's toilets

and pioneered the concept of the bathroom fittings showroom. sanitary plumbing In a time when bathroom fixtures were barely spoken of, Crapper heavily promoted [5][4]

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