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Thomas Crapper Grave Re-Dedication Ceremony
Saturday 4th May, 2002, at Beckenham Cemetery
by Simon Kirby, Managing Director, Thomas Crapper & Company Ltd.

Thomas Crapper died on 27th January, 1910 and was buried at Elmer's End Cemetery, Beckenham, Kent. In those days the area was semi-rural; now a busy part of South-East London although it is still in the county of Kent. The cemetery, in Elmer's End Road, is today entitled Beckenham Crematorium and Cemetery.

The grave was restored by enthusiasts many years ago but has since deteriorated. The marble was black with grime and lichen; some of the lead letters were missing; a small elder tree was growing through one corner and the other end was subsiding into the ground.

The firm decided to fully restore the grave last year. When the project was completed, a re-dedication ceremony seemed appropriate. The local rector, the Reverend Canon Derek Carpenter, kindly agreed to officiate and the date, 4th May 2002, was agreed.

Over 30 attended, many by the name of Crapper, including one (living) Thomas Crapper, a Major in the Royal Signals. The event was acclaimed as a great success by all participants. Revd. Carpenter had succeeded in finding a reference to a 'cistern' in the Bible and duly read the passage to those assembled around the grave. This was followed by prayers and a brief address from Simon Kirby, owner of Thomas Crapper's original firm. The sun shone from a clear-blue sky on the gleaming white marble of the tomb.

After the short service, some went to inspect Mr. Crapper's last house, complete with blue plaque; some walked around the cemetery. Other notable Victorian 'residents' include W. G. Grace, the great cricketer, Frederick Wolseley, who produced the first British motor-car and Samuel Rowbotham, founder of the Flat Earth Society. Next the celebrants travelled to the nearby Bromley Court Hotel for a champagne toast to the immortal memory of Thomas Crapper!

There were representatives of Messrs. Twyfords, Royal Doulton and Spode. Telegrams were read aloud from Armitage Shanks Ltd., Dr. Adam Hart-Davis, Lucinda Lambton and other interested parties from around the world. These last include owners of bathroom-related American web-sites and Mr. Ken Grabowski, author of the forthcoming definitive biography of Mr. Crapper.

Flash-bulbs popped, toasts were proposed and names and addresses were exchanged - for most of the Crappers had not met before. Many brought photocopies of their family trees and together they discovered to what extent they were related.

Simon Kirby then presented a brief history of the man and the surviving firm, illustrated by slides of old black-and-white photographs. Following this, the buffet and champagne were consumed in a lively atmosphere. Stories were elicited and offered in great number by all present, as they munched into a large cake, baked and decorated as a Crapper '814' W.C. Cistern!
Some Crappers stayed at the hotel and continued the celebrations until the early hours.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile day; also a mark of respect for one of our great Victorian pioneers to whom we all owe so much.

At some point we will organise another 'flush' of Crappers and Crapperologists - the centenary of Mr. Crapper's death is 2010 but we are not sure that we can wait that long!




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