Birthday: September 28, 1836
Died At Age: 73
Sun Sign: Libra
Born Country: England
Born in: Waterside, Thorne, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Famous as: Businessman
Spouse/Ex-: Maria Green
father: Charles Crapper
mother: Sarah Crapper
Died on: January 27, 1910
place of death: Anerley, Bromley, England, United Kingdom
Cause of Death: Colon Cancer
Who was Thomas Crapper?
Thomas Crapper was a business owner, inventor, and plumber from England. He established the plumbing and sanitary engineering company, Thomas Crapper & Co., in 1861. Originally from Yorkshire, Crapper served as an apprentice under his brother, George, who was a master plumber in Chelsea. He then travelled for three years as a journeyman plumber. In the 1880s, Prince Edward (future King Edward VII of England) bought his country seat of Sandringham House in Norfolk and requested Crapper’s company to send in the plumbing. This was Crapper’s first royal warrant. In the ensuing years, the firm obtained several other warrants from Edward after he ascended the British throne, as well as from George V. Crapper received nine patents, three of which he obtained for water closet improvements, like the floating ballcock. In 1880, he introduced the U-bend, which was an improvement on the S-bend. The firm set up its manufacturing facility at premises in nearby Marlborough Road (now Draycott Avenue), where they produced lavatorial equipment. The company also opened the world's first bath, toilet and sink showroom in King's Road.
Childhood & Early Life
Thomas Crapper was a native of Waterside, Thorne, Yorkshire, England, the United Kingdom. The year of his birth was 1836, but the precise date is a matter of scholarly debate. According to records, his baptism took place on September 28, 1836.
His parents were Charles and Sarah Crapper. His father earned his wages as a sailor. In 1853, he became an apprentice under his brother, George, who was a master plumber working in Chelsea. Thomas then embarked on three-year-long travel as a journeyman plumber.
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Career & Later Life
By 1861, Thomas Crapper had established himself as a sanitary engineer and operated his own brass foundry and workshops in nearby Marlborough Road.
In the 1880s, Prince Edward bought his country seat of Sandringham House in Norfolk and reached out to Crapper’s company for plumbing, requesting things like thirty lavatories with cedarwood seats and enclosures. This was Crapper’s first royal warrant.
In the following years, the firm was given many such warrants by Edward as the king and George V both as the Prince of Wales and the king.
Crapper brought an end to his professional career in 1904. He gave Thomas Crapper & Co. to his nephew George and his business partner Robert Marr Wharam. In 1966, the company was purchased from then-owner Robert G. Wharam, the son of Robert Marr Wharam, by their rivals John Bolding & Sons. In 1969, Bolding was liquidated.
The company did not garner any more attention until it was bought by Simon Kirby, who was a historian and collector of antique bathroom fittings. He reopened the company in Stratford-upon-Avon, selling genuine reproductions of Crapper's original Victorian bathroom fittings.
Manhole covers bearing Crapper's company's name on them in Westminster Abbey have been turned into minor tourist attractions.
Crapper was the first man to create public showrooms for exhibiting sanitary ware. He garnered fame for advocating sanitary plumbing and making the concept of installation inside people's homes popular. He also played an important role in the improvement of existing plumbing and sanitary fittings.
His business also included a foundry and metal shop, where he experimented with new designs and attempted to come up with more efficient plumbing solutions.
Crapper developed the U-bend as an improvement on the S-bend plumbing trap. Unlike its predecessor, the U-bend demonstrated no issue of jamming and would not get dried out often and did not require an overflow. The S-bend received the nomination for being “one of the 50 Things That (have) Made the Modern Economy” from the BBC.
Among Crapper’s nine patents, three were the ones he received for various water closet improvements, including the floating ballcock. However, he received none for the flush toilet itself.
In his advertisements, Crapper claimed that he invented the siphonic flush. The following was written in one such advertisement, “Crapper's Valveless Water Waste Preventer (Patent #4,990) One movable part only", despite the fact that patent 4990 (for a minor upgrade to the water waste preventer) belonged to Albert Giblin in 1898. However, Crapper’s nephew, George, did refine the siphon system by which the flow of water begins. In 1897, a patent for this was issued.
Crapper also came up with the manhole cover, which helped the maintenance workers gain easy access to an underground utility vault or pipe. He invented a number of other upgrades to plumbing fittings as well.
Family & Personal Life
Crapper was married to a woman named Maria Green. The couple had only one son, who did not survive infancy.
Crapper spent the final six years of his life at 12 Thornsett Road, Anerley. He passed away on January 27, 1910, at the age of 73. According to his death certificate, he died due to complications resulting from colon cancer. He is interred in the Elmers End Cemetery.
There is an urban myth that speculates that the slang term for human bodily waste, “crap”, has come from Thomas Crapper, due to his association with toilets. The reality is that the word “crap” has a Middle English origin and has been in use even before it became synonymous with bodily waste.