Monday, 18 October 2010

The Victorians - an Edifying History Lesson

For millennia, servants have carried water for their masters' ablutions.  The Romans built aqueducts to facilitate the transport of water.  They even devised mixer taps - that worked.  Then, for centuries, there was very little development. Edward III was a pioneer in British plumbing; he had running hot and cold water installed (Mortimer 2009, 196). Then nothing happened until the Victorian era. Servants carried hot and cold water up and down stairs.

The Victorians, as is well known, were a barbaric people who delighted in such unhygienic and downright dangerous practices as sideburn cultivation, wall-to-wall carpet installation, and lace-curtain twitching. Britain has still not recovered from the devastating effects of their ruinous activities. The Victorians also tried their hand at plumbing development, with very little success.  They discovered that it was possible to have hot water coming from a tap, as well as cold.  They left it at that, and no progress has been made since. Thousands of people daily suffer the devastating effects of scalding hot water coming from one tap, and freezing cold water from another. On the other hand, servants no longer have to carry water. (For a well-written and informative account of plumbing in Victorian households, see The Victorian House by Judith Flanders.)

One famous Victorian was that notorious cultivator of sideburns, Thomas Crapper. He is popularly believed to have invented the modern toilet, but the patent for the flush-out toilet was in fact taken out by Edward Jennings, in 1852 ( Nobody in Britain has considered it necessary to improve this design since.


Flanders, Judith. The Victorian House. London: Harper Perennial, 2004.
Mortimer, Ian. The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England. London: Vintage, 2009. Accessed 2010-10-18.

Related Reading
Plumbing: blessed, Blessed Plumbing
Victorian Servants Have Taken over the Book Club

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