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Happy Crapper Day!!!

'We enjoyed your site greatly. Happy Crapper Day for the 27th!' We are, yours sincerely,

-Thomas Crapper & Co. Ltd.

January 27th is the anniversary of the passing of Thomas Crapper. CQ is honoring this special man with this commemorative section containing special information and tributes.

If you would like to send a special message to be posted, please email us at info@crappersquarterly.com. All messages will be posted anonymously to protect the names of our readers.

A Brief History

Thomas Crapper was born in Yorkshire in 1836, into a family of modest means. At 14 years of age he was apprenticed to a Master Plumber in Chelsea, London. After serving his apprenticeship and then working as a journeyman, he set up in his own right in 1861 as a plumber in Robert Street, Chelsea.

Subsequently in 1866 he transferred his business to Marlboro' Works, in nearby Marlborough Road. He quickly gained a fine reputation for quality and service; the company expanded and by 1907 had established a flagship store on the Kings Road, opposite Royal Avenue.

It is popularly thought that Mr. Crapper invented the W.C., and that the vulgar word for faeces is a derivative of his name, but neither of these beliefs have been proven. Many etymologists however, do attest that the Amercian word, "crapper", for the W.C. can be directly attributed to his fame. It is certainly true that he relentlessly promoted sanitary fittings to a somewhat dirty and sceptical world and championed the 'water-waste-preventing cistern syphon' in particular.


Thomas Crapper and some of his employees outside Marlboro' Works, Chelsea, circa 1892.

Indeed, the expansion into the Kings Road shop, in one of the most important roads in London, was a bold step which brought sanitaryware out in the open for all to see. This caused quite a stir and it is said that ladies observing the china bowls in the windows became faint at this shocking sight!

Mr. Crapper's inventiveness was well known; he registered a number of patents, one for example being the "Disconnecting Trap" which became an essential underground drains fitting for domestic properties. This was a great leap forward in the campaign against disease.

By the 1880's, Crapper & Co.'s reputation was such that he was invited to supply plumbing and ware for Edward VII (when Prince of Wales) at Sandringham and some of the drainage for Westminster Abbey. Both sites still possess Crapper products; the Crapper manhole covers in the Abbey are popular for brass rubbings! Crapper & Co. remained by Royal Appointment to Edward when he became King and was also warranted by George V, as Prince of Wales and again as King.

Thomas Crapper died in 1910 and is buried near the grave of the cricketer, W.G. Grace, in Elmers End Cemetery. The company continued under the guidance of his old partner Robert M. Wharam, his son Robert G. Wharam and Mr. Crapper's nephew George Crapper. However, by the late 1950's it was evident to Robert G. Wharam that with no Crappers or Wharams left to run the business, the sale of the company was becoming inevitable. In addition, perhaps people cared little for quality and tradition during that period. In 1963 came the end of an era - the sale to a rival firm - and by 1966 T.C. and Co. Ltd. had ceased trading as a separate company.

Since then this distinguished firm endured fallow years - BUT HAS SURVIVED - and is now an independent company once again. Having held four royal warrants and having existed through five reigns over 139 years, Thomas Crapper & Co. is once again manufacturing the finest bathroom fittings.

(Photos and text courtesy of Thomas Crapper & Co. Ltd.)


Thomas Crapper's Grave
(Photo courtesy of Adam Hart-Davis)

A special message from noted historian and author of ``Thunder, Flush and Thomas Crapper,'' Adam Hart-Davis.

When Thomas Crapper died, he was buried in Elmers End Cemetery, not far from his home in Bromley. He shares his gave with his wife, but alas no one seems to care for it, for the gravestone is so black that their names are almost impossible to read - in sharp contrast to the grave of cricketer W.G. Grace, which is only a few yards away, and is spotless and shining, kept that way, I was told, by Australian cricketers who come to do homage to the great man.

Mr and Mrs Crapper deserve better, and I hope that someone will find the time and energy to go along with a scrubbing brush and some detergent and clean up the Crapper gravestone, just as he helped to clean up the bathrooms of the Victorians.

-Adam Hart-Davis




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