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when was the shower invented

when was the shower invented

when was the shower invented

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shower invented

Over 85% of UK homes have a shower, and more of us than ever are switching to showers from baths every year. Whether you are thinking of installing a new shower in an existing bathroom, or replacing an older shower, we have a huge range to choose from. Our range includes mixer showers which run off your combi boiler, electric showers which work independently of any central heating system, ultra-modern digital showers which guarantee a constant temperature and a huge selection of shower accessories and shower heads.

Not only is the number of products we stock unrivalled, so is the value for money we offer. We carry all of the big brands you’ll be familiar with such as Bristan, Mira and Prestige at prices which are impossible to beat. We have products to match your individual style too, whether that means a traditionally styled shower for a Victorian bathroom, or something with cutting edge design to fit in with a very contemporary scheme. Look no further for a superb range of all sorts of showers, at prices which will amaze you.

when was the shower invented
when was the shower invented

If you wanted to get clean, you had a few options — one was to take a bath at home, in a tub filled with water warmed on the stove. But in big, busy families, such soaks were far from luxurious. Your best bet, if you wanted to wash, was to head to one of the public bathhouses dotting neighborhoods like the Lower East Side.

Bathhouses in New York were strictly the domain of the working classes. Uptown, the wealthy were still bathing in copper and porcelain tubs, filled by servants and later via taps connected to the city’s water supply system.

When was the shower invented?

That’s because the shower, despite its ubiquity in American households now, wasn’t especially popular upon its debut in the mid-1700s. In 1767, a stove maker named William Feetham patented a shower meant to be pumped by hand (the idea was that a servant would do the pumping). This would have held huge appeal for servants, who would, if Feetham’s invention caught on, be spared the task of hauling heavy buckets of water up and down staircases each time their employers wanted to bathe.

Amongst those likely to use the shower, Feetham’s shower held less appeal — not only was it constructed to recycle the same water over and over (so: not actually very clean), there was no way to heat the water, meaning it was cold showers only for anyone who dared to install one. This wasn’t entirely unpalatable — in ​The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History​, historian Katherine Ashenburg notes that writer Charles Dickens had a cold shower installed in his London home, telling a friend that a cold shower was “a positive necessary of life.”

As improvements on Feetham’s design continued to be made in the 19th century, the focus of showering was one of economics — unlike costly (and inconvenient) baths, a shower was a way to get large numbers of people clean quickly and cheaply, which is why many early shower prototypes were installed in places like boarding schools and military barracks.

In 1883, the Berlin Public Health Exhibition called the shower “the simplest, quickest, cheapest, cleanest, and withal best bath for people’s bath houses; the one which requires the least space, the least time, the least amount of water, the least fuel for warming water, the least attendance, the least cost of maintenance.”

When were showers introduced to homes?

Bathhouses sprung up in major cities, but showers in American homes took a little longer to catch on. Part of this lag was the difficulties of enforcing plumbing-related laws like New York’s Tenement House Act — in 1940, according to the census, a full 44% of American homes still didn’t have a bathtub or a shower connected to running water.


As the 20th century moved forward, and access to running water became more of a given, especially for Americans leaving cities and moving to single-family homes in the suburbs, the shower became not just more palatable but a regular part of bathroom design. In 1954, ​Challenge: The Magazine of Economic Affairs​ postulated in a story on the plumbing industry that the industry “confidently predicts that the day is not far off when a bathroom and bathtub (with shower) will become a necessary adjunct to every bedroom in the home.”

Design, too, caught up with the interest in showering — in 1927, Kohler became the first company to introduce matching bathroom fixtures. Looking at plumbing fixture advertisements from the 20th century, showers slowly started to be integrated into bathtub suites, which is how we got the elaborate showers (rainforest-themed! Individual shower heads for five people! Light shows powered by water!) installed in many homes today.

While most of New York’s public bathhouses have closed, there’s still plenty of evidence that ample bathing space isn’t always a given — see, for example, the number of apartments that come with showers … in the kitchen.

Lessons From Life in a One-Bathroom House

when was the shower invented
when was the shower invented

When I was 10 years old, my parents moved out of Manhattan, leaving what at the time seemed like an increasingly dangerous and difficult city, and taking their three children to the New Jersey suburbs. My father, at least, was susceptible to the idea of a house and a lawn (bad idea) and even a dog (worse idea, but never mind).

My mother, who had grown up in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, long before it was hip, and had never learned to drive, had more doubts about the whole project. Inevitably, she was the one who ended up walking the dog — in 1976 she wrote an essay about it for The Times. She was happy to make sport of the dog’s bathroom habits, but I don’t think it would ever have occurred to her to remark on our own.

We were a family of five with one bathroom, and that didn’t seem particularly remarkable. Actually, the house did have a second “half-bathroom,” with a toilet and a sink, which opened off the back of the kitchen, but nobody used it, except occasionally as a place to lock up the dog if he was trying to attack a guest. It had no heat, and the sliding door stuck, and the dog was kind of proprietary about it.


Throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the use of public baths gradually declined, and private bathrooms were favoured – this laid down the foundations for the modern bathroom, as it was to become in the 20th century.

The plague hit England 7 times in 200 years, and it was this that had a great impact on the public opinion of bathing, hygiene and cleanliness. In 1546 King Henry VIII shut down public bathhouses in England for good, blaming them for sickness. Instead of bathing to keep clean, it was thought that wearing clean linen next to the skin would make the body clean, and as a result laundry and washing became important for the women in Tudor England. White linen underclothes that soaked up the toxins and smells became the solution for keeping the body clean.



In the 19th century the house became organised around what was perceived as the usefulness of the rooms, and at a time when fears concerning germs and hygiene were rife, the bathroom rose to prominence within many households, while mass showers were provided for the poor.

The discovery of germs and a more specific cause for disease changed the way people thought about cleanliness and hygiene. Taking a bath and cleaning the body with soap was now generally thought of as a necessity for good health.

Thanks to the Industrial Revolution, steps were taken to mechanise the bathroom. Hot water could be produced for use in the home and having a bath was made much easier due to the development of gas water heaters, and so personal bathing became much more common.

Today’s bathrooms are all about combining stylish looks with functionality. The bathroom is a place to get ready on those busy weekday mornings, but it’s also a space where you can relax and unwind too. We have created spaces of luxury and comfort that incorporate technology such as underfloor heating, steam-free mirrors, televisions, clever lighting schemes and digital showers.


when was the shower invented
when was the shower invented

Bathroom styles of today range from the sleek and contemporary to the elegant and traditional. We’re now opting for more economical products that reduce water usage so you can benefit from lower energy bills whilst protecting the environment. There’s water-saving taps and showers, as well as toilets that use just 4/2.6 litres per flush.


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