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The Loo aka Water Closet

Bathroom Suite
Bathroom Suite
old-house online

The first flush toilet (loo)was introduced by the godson of Queen Elisabeth I Sir John Harington in the 1590s. This new toilet or loo was called the Ajax and was very noisy. It worked so well that Queen Elizabeth is said to have installed the first royal flush. Even with her endorsement of the toilet Harington's colleagues literally snub their noses at the Ajax. The bowl flushed directly into an open cesspit outside, the stench made the Ajax more of the chamber pot than workable toilet. Because of this, though his idea was very creative, it literally went down the drain.

Queen Victoria, some 300 years later, her inventive subjects reinvented Harington's idea in the 1880s by attaching working loo (toilets) to working sewers, this change the world forever. Although there are many other inventions during the 19th century the steam engine, electric light, central heat, and antibiotics, the flushing toilet with the sewer system was the most important of all these innovations, making modern urban civilization feasible, and aiding in the control of disease. The first flushing rim toilet was presented in 1824.

Even with his new invention which was not called a toilet at the time, but was rather known as a water closet. The majority of people still take care of their personal business either by using a hole in the ground or a chamber pot. A toilet at that time was nothing more than a dressing table or form of washstand, a term which disappeared with the new moniker of loo water closet.

The earliest flushing water closets were made to appear like a chamber pot or a commode. Entire bathroom suites which included lavatories, foot baths, sitz baths, tubs, and water closets were ornately enclosed in ornately engraved and stained cabinets that fit better for the parlor than the privy.

During the Victorian era high-tank toilets became the rage. People learned early on wood and water didn't mix. The great bathroom suites that were found in the Gilded Age mansions though beautifully made were impossible to maintain and by late 1880s open plumbing was becoming the rage. Porcelain fixtures were covered with intricate embossing and decoration and were glazed magnificently. The late Victorian toilets (loo)were masterpieces of the potter's art. These magnificent toilets were highly decorated with everything from curling trunks of elephants to the classical dolphin. It is almost impossible to believe that toilets were a form of art in the beginning.

The 20th century brought in the tank-less pressure valve toilet though it was short-lived between the 1900s and 1910 those early closets were replaced with the siphon – jet model and the high tanks were replaced with low tanks and no ornamentation they were replaced with smooth white and easy to clean surfaces.

In 1922 a one-piece glass-like China toilet was created that is very similar to the toilets that are currently being used today in 1928 colored porcelain glazes revolutionized the industry. During the Great Depression, due to economic pressures, a freestanding two-piece model replaced the more expensive versions. The rage in the 1930s was close – coupled toilets they were made in a rainbow of colors, however by the 1970s the popularity of the color fixtures dropped dramatically. The early day loo or modern day toilet have made a significant contribution to modern society.

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