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|Born||September 28, 1836|
|Died||27 January 1910 (aged 73)|
|Spouse(s)||Maria Green (1837–1902)|
Manhole covers with Crapper's company's name on them in Westminster Abbey have become one of London's minor tourist attractions.
LifeThomas Crapper was born in Thorne, South Yorkshire, in 1836; the exact date is unknown, but he was baptised on 28 September 1836. His father, Charles, was a sailor. In 1853, he was apprenticed to his brother George, a master plumber in Chelsea and thereafter spent 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.
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. Crapper’s death certificate records that he died from colon cancer. He was buried in the nearby Elmers End Cemetery.
Posthumous fate of the Crapper companyIn 1966, the Crapper 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.
Most important and lasting achievements
Crapper improved the S-bend trap in 1880. The new plumbing trap (U-bend) was a significant improvement on the "S" as it could not jam, and unlike the S-bend, it did not have a tendency to dry out, and did not need an overflow. The BBC nominated the S-bend as one of the 50 Things That (have) Made the Modern Economy
Crapper held nine patents, three of them for water closet improvements such as the floating ballcock, but none was for the flush toilet itself.
Crapper's advertisements implied the siphonic flush was his invention; one having the text "Crapper's Valveless Water Waste Preventer (Patent #4,990) One movable part only", but patent 4990 (for a minor improvement to the water waste preventer) was not his, but that of Albert Giblin in 1898. Crapper's nephew, George, did improve the siphon mechanism by which the water flow is started. A patent for this development was awarded in 1897.
Crapper invented the manhole cover enabling easy maintenance access, various improvements to plumbing fittings.
Origin of the word "crap"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. A 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".
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). 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.
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- This page was last edited on 25 June 2019, at 22:16 (UTC).
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