Thomas Crapper

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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 water closet. 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.

The manhole covers with Crapper's company's name on them in Westminster Abbey are now a minor tourist attraction.[1][2]

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Crapper was born in Thorne, Yorkshire, in 1836; the exact date is unknown, but he was baptised on 28 September 1836. His father, Charles, was a sailor. At the age of 11, Crapper is reported to have walked the 165 miles (266 km) from his home to London, where he was apprenticed to a master plumber in Robert Street, 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.[3]

The flushing toilet was invented by John Harrington in 1596. Joseph Bramah of Yorkshire patented the first practical water closet in England in 1778. Edward Jennings in 1852 also took out a patent for the flush-out toilet.[4][5] In a time when bathroom fixtures were barely spoken of, Crapper heavily promoted sanitary plumbing and pioneered the concept of the bathroom fittings showroom.[citation needed]

In the 1880s, Prince Edward (later Edward VII) purchased his country seat of Sandringham House in Norfolk and asked Thomas Crapper & Co. to supply the plumbing, including thirty lavatories with cedarwood seats and enclosures, thus giving Crapper his first Royal Warrant. The firm received further warrants from Edward as King and from George V both as Prince of Wales and as King.

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 thirteen years of his life and died on 27 January 1910. He was buried in the nearby Elmers End Cemetery.[3]

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