The History of the Washroom
Washrooms, we all use them each and every day, and yet we don’t give them a passing thought. But have you ever wondered where exactly the washroom developed from?
After all, washrooms and bathrooms have come a very long way, over thousands of years, in fact, to become the rooms we know today.
We now have privacy, comfort and clean washrooms that carry our waste away without a second thought from us. We have ventilation to remove smells, running clean water with soap and driers to help keep germs and bacteria from spreading.
So where and when did the first washroom appear?
Washrooms developed from public baths that were designed by the Romans during the Roman Empire, and were built across the countries their empire was ruling. These baths were viewed as a way to cleanse not only the body but also a social gathering too.
More affluent families often had their own thermal baths during this time, but they too would often go to the public baths to mingle and enjoy the entertainment that was often organised at the baths.
In fact, back in Ancient Rome public washrooms were for men only and had a bench that lined the walls with large holes beneath them. This area like the baths would become an area where men would sit and chat about issues with fellow men.
These washrooms weren’t all they cracked up to be in their minimal state. There were times when they would have mini explosions and small fires under the benches because of the chemicals that had accumulated from the excrement mixing.
There was also the fear of being bitten by a rat and not to mention the lack of toilet paper. Instead, the men shared a sponge on a stick to wipe!
Sadly, women weren’t privy to use a public washroom until the 19th century, so either had to stay close to home should they need to use the facilities, hold it or ladies would go to extreme lengths and not drink or eat while they were out.
The first public toilets
The very first segregated public washrooms were at a ball in Paris in 1739, there was a room for men with a chamber box and one for women.
The very first public toilets were unveiled in 1851 at Crystal Palace in London. They were built by George Jennings who was a plumber and sanitation engineer. The washrooms included closets and the toilets flushed too.
To use them you had to pay a penny, which is where the phrase ‘I’m going to spend a penny’ originated from, but that penny bought you more than just the use of the facilities. That penny would ensure you a clean seat, a towel and you’d even get your shoes shined too.
George Jennings went onto win a Gold Medal award at the International Health Exhibition in London in 1884.
But where did the waste go?
Well, about 4,500 years ago communities from Scotland and the Indus Valley (now Pakistan) had in place pipes to carry waste from within buildings to the outside world.
While toilets in Egypt had invented a keyhole-shaped seat to improve comfort, and the Romans built modern (for the time) sewer systems to rid the waste to rivers.
But it was the Greeks that invented the ‘flush’ operation, collecting rainwater from rooftops to flush away waste.
Washrooms of today
Washrooms and bathrooms genuinely have come a long, long way from sharing a sponge on a stick in an all-male privileged restroom. 21st Century washrooms are forever evolving, to become more efficient, water saving, clean and modern in design.
An Interfix washroom can provide your office, school, leisure club or public washrooms with an innovative and bespoke washroom while prioritising functionality, that is unique in design and suits all of your requirements.
So if you are in need of a new washroom and would like a professional service from start to finish, then please do get in touch with us, and take a look at our case studies on the website for examples of our exemplary work.