Skip navigation


Service Throughout St. Louis County and St. Charles County, Since 1991


Performance Plumbing Blog

The History Of The Toilet


Plumbing companies, over time, have created technological advancements in toilet construction. Among the advances include toilets that will automatically clean a person’s bottom region as well as toilets that are both self flushing and self cleaning as well. But toilets didn’t start off being so modern.

Ancient Times

For instance, the Romans, in Biblical times, had an intricate system of latrines and sewers, directly over the Tibet River waters, created during Julius Ceasar’s reign and improved during Nero’s rule. Mojenjo-Daro is known as one of the most ancient human civilizations in the world; in the geographical region that’s now Pakistan.

At around 2,900 B.C., lavatories were built into the outside rock walls of houses. These designs were advanced for their time, featuring wooden seats and vertical chutes, through which waste went through to either pits or street drains.

The Middle Ages

But those toilets were only for the affluent or for those who had the means to afford the convenience. Most people, during the Middle Ages (476 A.D. to 1492), used chamber pots. These pots were either ceramic or metal pots into which users emptied the waste out and then tossed the contents away. In 1596 a rudimentary flush toilet was built in England for Queen Elizabeth I by Sir John Harrington, her godson.

Subsequently, in 1775 the very first toilet patent was issued to Alexander Cumming, a Scottish watchmaker, mechanic, and mathematician. His s-shaped waste trap design, created to prevent gases and other substances from reentering buildings, still survives today, as either a j or u-shaped trap, located below any plumbing device.

Flushing Toilets

These flushing toilets started life in Great Britain, but by the late 1880s, technological advancements were made, and in the United States, in the homes of the wealthy and in hotels, the first pull chain toilets were introduced. Banker J. Pierpont Morgan, and businessman John Jacob Astor, who died in the April 1912 Titanic disaster, were among the first to acquire a modern toilet in their homes.

William Elvis Sloan was an American inventor who in 1906 invented the Flushometer, which is a diaphragm-like valve that uses water pressure to discharge waste into sewers. His basic design hasn’t changed in over 100 years and is still actively employed today by many plumbing companies. At around 1910 toilet design evolved from the hole in the ground and subsequent water tanks to the modern and current toilet seat and bowl.

Bruce Thompson, in 1980 while working for an Australian textile company, created the Duoset system with two buttons and two volumes of water flushing. Many more advancements, through research, are performed on a regular basis by plumbing companies who strive to make the bathroom experience a more pleasant and cleaner event. A toilet designed in 2015 will save, on average, up to 70% of the water used.

….And that’s the history of the humble toilet, from its origins. The world would not be the same without the cleanliness and sanitary properties the toilet offers its users world wide. It’s a device that will continue to evolve well into the future.

If you’re ever having toilet troubles in your St. Louis home call Performance Plumbing at (636) 332-8220!

Comments are closed.