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Thomas Crapper

Inventor of the Flush Toilet?

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Some people claim that Thomas Crapper, a London resident in the late 1800's, invented the modern flush toilet. Others disagree. All agree that he existed and was involved in the plumbing business.

Thomas Crapper Photo 1Whatever the truth, the Science Museum in London has a display of cut-away working models of flush toilets. One of them even includes a suspicious-looking brown object that you can flush automatic mechanism soon returns it to the bowl to await another flush.


Photo of "Thomas Crapper" demonstrating his flush toilet to Science Museum visitors. Mr. Crapper visits the museum from time to time to explain the workings of this household appliance to crowds of bemused visitors.

Thomas Crapper Photo 2

Mr. Crapper with working cutaway model of flush toilet. Flushable brown object is not visible in this photo.

Thomas Crapper Photo 3

Mr. Crapper using his humorous style to teach school children about the toilet. He says he doesn't mind having people call his invention by his name, but he doesn't like the fact that many people also use his name to describe what goes into the toilet.

Thomas Crapper Photo 4

Mr Crapper with certificate and working model of flush valve. Bucket of water, used to demonstrate the flush valve action, is located underneath toilet.

T. Crapper Manhole Cover

Photo of manhole cover manufactured by T. Crapper. Two of these manhole covers are still in use in Westminster Abbey. To find them, enter the Abbey, continue past the coffee bar and take a right turn to exit the building. The two manholes are located inside the building, within about 10 meters of the building exit.

Manhole Enlargement

Enlarged image of center of manhole. The text reads:


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A visitor writes: There is, or was, at least a third manhole cover that is/was in the alley behind the Woolworth's in the Kensington High Street. Get off the tube at Kensington High St. and across the street is/was the Woolworth's. The cover, which we have to rubbings of, is in the alley. Watch out for traffic though...look right, not left as in the USA, when you step off the curb. And do "mind the gap."

And here is some news from
A stained glass window has been installed in St. Lawrence's church near Doncaster, England, to honor Thomas Crapper, the inventor of the flush toilet, who was born in nearby Thorne. They drew the line at depicting a toilet in the traditional white, however.
"Officials thought a white loo might stand out too much in the window and become the focus of attention instead of Christ in Majesty, so it was portrayed in a dark silhouette," said a church spokesman. Is a stained glass toilet appropriate? "Nobody has told us that it demeans the church or the glory of God. They can see the significance of including Crapper in a celebration of the millennium." (AFP, November 2000)

Here is a link to the history of Thomas Crapper, at the web site of the modern-day Thomas Crapper company.

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