Surrey Rural Life Centre celebrates Thomas Crapper centenary with plumbing exhibition

By Richard Moss | 20 August 2010
a poster showing a wide eyed baby boy looking upward with water on his faced below the words, the magic of instant hot water

Exhibition: Thunder Flush and Thomas Crapper – Royal flush, Rural Life Centre, Farnham, until October 24 2010

The Rural Life Centre in Surrey is marking the 100th anniversary of the death of Thomas Crapper with an exhibition devoted to the unglamorous essential that we now take for granted – sanitary plumbing.

Thunder, Flush & Thomas Crapper celebrates the life and work of the father of the flushing toilet and showcases a fine collection of plumbing artefacts from the Museum's collection.

Specially refurbished for the occasion, the collection is joined by several rare examples of antique baths and Victorian "thunderboxes" from Miscellanea, a local firm specialising in antique style bathrooms.

Although often wrongly credited as the inventor of the flushing toilet, Crapper did convince sceptical Victorians of the benefits of up-to-date sanitary fittings – in particular "Crapper's water-waste-preventing cistern siphon". Yet for most ordinary Britons it was much later that they experienced the comfort of an indoor toilet.

Older visitors can remind themselves of the introduction of this modern convenience with a look round the Museum's Prefab. It was this humble building, rapidly built as homes for returning servicemen and their families after the Second World War, which gave many people their first experience of relief – in comfort – without the need for a trip to the privy.

2010 is Year of the Museum in the South-East. Discover a museum at www.culture24.org.uk/southeast and find out about the Beautiful South campaign at www.visitsoutheastengland.com.

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