^UP^ to Thunder, Flush and Thomas Crapper index.
Chapters: ABCDEFGHIJK L MNOPRSTUVWYZ Extracts from Adam Hart-Davis's book.
(Buy the book from Micheal O'Mara Books, ISBN 1-85479-250-4,
or in the US, ISBN 1570760810.)
For at least 500 years a lavatory was a room for
washing, a basin, a bath, or a laundry.
After about 1850 (OED) lavatory came to mean also a
receptacle into which a person can urinate or defacate. In the
sanitaryware business today, a lavatory is a wash-basin; a bowl
for excretion is a closet; seeeuphemisms.
Women are apparently irritated by
men leaving the seat up; so some bright spark in the USA has
invented a loo that lights up in the dark. When the infrared
sensor detects a person approaching, the light glows green if the
seat is down and red if it is up.
The locks on lavatory doors---at least the kind with a rack and pinion that
moved a label to say ENGAGED when the lavatory was occupied---were invented
by Arthur Ashwell. He took out a patent in 1882 (No 781), and another, for
an improved version, in 1885 (No 6928). The improved mechanism was better
designed and easier to fit. Furthermore it not only incorporated a hidden
spring ``which renders the action of the bolt smooth and noiseless'', but
also allowed for notches to be included for locks on board sea-going
vessels to ``remove the liability of the bolt to be shot or withdrawn by
the rolling of the vessel at sea''.
Text extracts from ``Thunder, Flush and Thomas Crapper'' copyright Adam Hart-Davis 1997.
Images available from the DHD Multimedia Gallery.
Site content copyright Damon Hart-Davis 1997--2008 unless otherwise stated.