Thomas Crapper has a name which has gone down in history – but for the wrong reason. Many people believe he was the inventor of the flushing toilet. But he was not. However, he was a plumber and he did bring his expertise to the subject of toilets and bathrooms with his invention of the ballcock and other plumbing parts.
His showrooms were in the King’s Road, Chelsea and he had workshops nearby in Marlborough Road which is now renamed as Draycott Avenue. The showrooms are said to have been the first of their type.
His reputation as a plumber must have been good as he was called upon by Prince Edward to supply and fit all the bathrooms in his new acquisition in Norfolk – the Sandringham estate. It is still the preferred residence over the Christmas period which is enjoyed by the present monarch Queen Elizabeth II. As might be imagined the job was a big one and included the fitting of thirty lavatories. For this, Thomas Crapper & Co received their first Royal Warrant.
Thomas Crapper retired at the age of 68. The business stayed in the family until 1966 when it was sold to a rival company. This went bankrupt in 1969. A person by the name of Simon Kirby came forward and purchased what was left of the company. He was a historian and serious collector of bathroom fittings. It is true although it does appear to be a strange hobby. However, he relaunched the company making and selling reproductions of Thomas Crapper’s original bathroom designs. The original site is now a clothes shop.