Always Plumbing is a local company based in London Colney, St Albans in Hertfordshire with over 30 years experience in the trade, from small jobs to the more complex domestic jobs. Owner and founder Andy Frances Established Always Plumbing is a local company based in London Colney, St Albans in 2003 and has built up a high quality heating and plumbing company with a reputation for service and quality work. He has over 30 years experience and only employs fully trained technicians and plumbers.
Babylon and its network of canals and verdant crop lands Located 60 miles south of Baghdad in Iraq In 6000-3000 B.C. This time was known as the beginning of civilisation and we start our history of plumbing and water management which evolved into irrigation dams, drains and basins, and personal bathrooms.
Plumbers worked their trade with clay mixed with finely chopped straw to form crude piping. Bitumen was known to the Mesopotamians. Produced in a liquid and a solid form, it corresponded to tar and pitch, essential for construction and for stopgap plugs in the irrigation systems. Water was stored in large clay jars, carried from the river.
The richer households and the palaces had separate bath rooms; they used to bathe and wash, the common man and woman used the banks of the canals or the cisterns in the courtyards.
The bathroom of the rich was a room, about 20 feet square, and built at the south end of the house. The lower parts of the wall were lined with baked brick as was the floor. However, the floor was overlaid with a bitumen composition and powdered limestone. It sloped to the middle of the room where the water drained off in small runnels by baked and glazed earthenware tiles.
A privy developed which consisted of a hole in the floor with a cesspool underneath (a practice carried forward to modern times). Toilets were found in Sargon. Those toilets had high seats which brought the latrine off the floor in the western style. Here, archaeologists say they have found connections to drains which discharged into a main sewer. The sewer was made with baked bricks. It ran alongside the outer wall of the building, beneath a pavement. The sewer sloped downward to allow the sewage to be washed down.
plumbers were around when construction of the "Hanging Gardens of Babylon," started. They covered the terraced structure with dirt deep enough to support large trees and irrigation machines to keep them watered. Traces of wells have been discovered, which suggest that the wheel of buckets technique or Doria was used here to raise the water to the highest point of the terrace. Water was supplied from a reservoir-lake over the vegetation beneath. Troughs and channels were built into the irrigation system, and lined with non-rusting metals such as lead and bronze. No iron was found in the system, leaving unclear whether iron was known to the Babylonians. The terraces contained an extremely advanced system of internal drainage, which ensured that all moisture was led off into large sewers of baked brick. The sewers were roofed with slightly ogival or pointed vaulting. They consisted of a series of slanting courses each resting on the one below, compensating for the lack of wood or scaffolding in the design.
As irrigation was so vital to the empire, a whole network of canals was formed, and special officials appointed to supervise them. They made sure the canals were clear of rushes and water weeds, the course ways dredged of silt, and the banks consolidated against floods.
King Hammurabi who lived around 1760 B.C. directed provincial governors to dig and dredge the canals on a continuous basis. The remains of the earliest aqueduct on record have been pinpointed to the works of the Assyrian king and master builder, Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.), Water ran along a strengthened conduit of hardened earth, waterproofed with bitumen, and lined with flagstones. The aqueduct spanned the valleys on arches, and was fed by a number of small streams to ensure a proper supply to the town.
The ancient people of Crete between 3000-1500 B.C were using plumbers to lay elaborate systems of sewage disposal and drainage that resemble sewers of today. Archaeologists have discovered underground channels that remained virtually unchanged for several centuries, except for extensions to include structures built over the original ones. Some vestiges of the pipes still carry off the heavy rains.
Knossos was the Minoan capital featured a convivial foot-bath with grandiose dimensions of 60' x 5' x 18" deep. Surrounding slabs which formed seats for the foot-bathers jutted over the bath.
The early plumbers used the steep gradient of the land to devise a drainage system with lavatories, sinks and manholes. Archaeologists have found pipe laid in depths from just below the surface in one area to almost 12 feet deep in others.
They constructed a main sewer of masonry, which linked four large stone shafts emanating from the upper stories of the palace. Evidently the shafts acted as ventilators and chutes for household refuse. The shafts and conduit were formed by cement-lined limestone flags, but earthenware or burnt clay pipes were used in the remainder of the system. These were laid out under passages, not under the living rooms.
The drainage system consisted of terra cotta pipes, from 4"-6" in diameter. The rain water from the roofs and the courts, and the overflows from the cisterns carried the water down into buried drains of pottery pipe. The pipes had perfect socket joints, so tapered that the narrow end of one pipe fixed tightly into the broad end of the next one. The tapering sections allowed a jetting action to prevent accumulation of sediment.
At the same time the world's earliest "flushing" water closet, screened off by gypsum partitions on either side. It was flushed by rain water or by water held in cisterns. Two conduits were built into the wall. There were several other closets found in the palace too.
Our next civilization are the people of Egypt. Other than wells, the River Nile is the only source of water in the country.
In 3000 B.C., a single ruler, Menes, unified the entire land and set the stage for an impressive civilization that lasted 3,000 years. He began with the construction of basins to contain the flood water, digging canals and irrigation ditches to reclaim the marshy land. King Menes is credited with diverting the course of the Nile to build the city of Memphis on the site where the great river had run. By 2500 B. C., an extensive system of dikes, canals and sluices had developed. It remained in use until the Roman occupation, circa 30 B.C. - 641 A.D.
By 2500 B.C. the Egyptians were pretty adept with drainage construction when uncovering the mortuary temple of King Suhura at Abusir it was discovered in the walls stone basins. These were furnished with metal fittings for use as lavatories. The outlet of the basin closed with a lead stopper attached to a chain and a bronze ring. The basin emptied through a copper pipe to a trough below. The pipe was made of beaten copper to a diameter of a little under 2". A lap joint seam hammered it tight. Found within a pyramid temple was a brass drain pipe running from the upper temple along the connecting masonry causeway to the outer temple on the river.
The ancient Egyptians were early developers of pipe and the techniques of making copper alloys. Their pipes and fittings were basic. Like the Mesopotamians, they used clay pipe made from a combination of straw and clay. First it was dried in the sun, and then baked in ovens. As they improved upon their clay sewer pipe, the Egyptians were able to drain the low-lying portions of the Nile Valley, and gradually the entire region evolved into a fertile garden. It is at that time in Egypt that the noria or Egyptian wheel became a common use. As in Mesopotamia, it consisted of a chain pump comprising a number of earthen pots carried round and round by a wheel.
The homes of the wealthy were included bathrooms. Actually There the master of the house stood while his slaves liberally doused him with water. The Boiler water ran into a large bowl in the floor below or through an earthenware channel in the wall where it emptied into still another bowl outside. Then that bowl was baled out by hand.
In 432 B.C., Olynthus was a rich and flourishing metropolis, its people enjoying the luxury of the latest plumbing innovation-bathtubs. Excavations at Olynthus, in northern Greece, attest to tiled bathrooms and self-draining baths. Several of the baths have survived intact, shaped like present-day models though with one sloping end cut off. It is assumed that underground piping was made of since deteriorated clay, as there was no lead piping found.
At this stage the early plumbers were still trying with a new metal called lead. Indeed one tub uncovered in a tiled bathroom was repaired with lead clamps
The shapes of the ancient baths found, shows the bathers sat upright and rested their feet on a depression formed at the bottom.
The ancient Greeks promoted bodily and mental fitness and their gymnasiums featured hot and cold shower baths. Private bathrooms contained portable earthenware tubs for a more relaxing soak. Grecian soap was manufactured from a combination of goat fat and ashes.)
Many houses in ancient Greece were found with closets or latrines that drained into a sewer beneath the street. They seemed to have been flushed by Boiler water. Some of the sewers were fitted with ventilating shafts. The Greeks gave special protection to their water supplies by laying Aqueducts underground, sometimes to a depth of 50 feet.
The city of Athens required many aqueducts to bring water from the mountains. The people also depended upon deep wells which they laboriously had to dig through layers of rock to secure. The water supplies were directed to storage cisterns which in turn fed a multitude of street fountains.
The Greeks made strong headway in the development of water systems, especially cold water systems. But it would still remain for others to expand upon their achievements. In 201 B.C
The plumbing of the Old Roman Empire helped the Western world get to where it is today. The plumbers and the skill of their craftsmen that enabled them to erect great baths and recreation centers, the water supplied by aqueducts from sources miles away.
Plumbing Defined: While early pipe and conduit was made from wood or earthenware, later refinement to lead made skilled workers in lead indispensable. The Latin term "plumbus" means "lead," as was also the weight at the end of a line for perpendicular alignment. The plumber was a worker in lead who, in today's connotation, repairs or fits the apparatus of water distribution in and to a building. The Roman artisan plumbed pipe, soldered, installed and repaired; he worked on roofs and gutters, down to sewers and drains; in essence, everything involving supply and Boiler. In fact, this general job description of plumbers' work lasted into the 20th century.
Romans would have a separate steam bath, and a small circular chamber covered by a high dome. An opening in the center of the dome provided light; it also vented the chamber. As a rudimentary way of regulating the heat, the vent could be raised or lowered. One could take a hot bath in a tub or a plunge into cold water, but the tub was soon supplanted by a larger unit.
By the 4th century A.D., Rome would have 11 public baths, 1,352 public fountains and cisterns, and 856 private baths. In Pompeii, some homes had 30 taps.
Plumbing came to England at the height of the power of the Roman Empire which had conquered most of Europe, including about 1,600 so. mi. of Britain, its farthest outpost. And in the ruins of Aquae Sulis, the famed spas of Bath, lay the vestige of the rise and fall, and redevelopment of plumbing technique.
By the time the Romans reached Britain in 43 A.D., the curative powers of the hot baths were already part of English legend.
The early Christians rejected most anything Roman, including the value of cleanliness. They considered it unsanitary to be clean, sinful to display material wealth.
In the 16th century, the Cross Bath was "worthilie called the hot bath was introduced.Cartloads of wood or coal provided the fuel for the warm-air furnaces, especially for the hottest room with its sub-floor heating. The Great Bath, which measured 80' long x 40' wide and 6' deep, was still supplied water from the original conduit installed by the first Roman plumber in town
In 1780-81, the future Admiral Lord Nelson spent some of his youth in Bath, The baths were back in business.
Boiler And Sewers: Where and how to dispose of Boiler and sewage while early on he camping downstream to let "running water take its course," the problem of disposal became acute as populations proliferated
By 14th century England, the problem was still unsolved. Culled from an old record, one reads that "the refuse from the king's kitchen had long run through the Great Hall in an open channel, to the serious injury to health and danger to life of those congregated at court."
Further complications resulted from medieval privies or the euphemistic "garde robes" (wardrobes for undressing) located in the "Great House" or castle. The chamber would be in a small vaulted room about 3' wide with a narrow window. The privy was built within the wall, with a vertical shaft below a stone for a wooden seat. The Boiler would discharge into the moat below. If there were no water, the receptacle might be a barrel or a pit. In either case, it was a deadly chore to rake the offal. The job paid top wages for brave but desperate men needing to work. A crew of 13 men were paid three times the normal rate to clean the pit at Newgate Jail in 1281. It took them five nights.
Stinks, Pots & Loos: The rivers of the Thames, Fleet and Walbrook were open sewers, the Thames the most foul of all. The abominable odors of the Fleet, complained the monks of the White Friars, "have overcome the frankincense burnt at the altar" they claimed the fumes caused the deaths of several brethren. Sherborne Lane, once a lovely stream back in 1300, was to be more popularly known as Shiteburn Lane. However, these were minor when compared to the state of the Thames.
By the mid-1800s the by-products of the Industrial Revolution were flowering, mixing, and foaming with the Boiler and stench of nearly 3 million people in London. All sewers led to the Thames, pouring through bulkheads along the shores.
For several sultry days in 1859, the Thames seethed, seeped, and nearly boiled under the burning sun of an unusually hot season. Parliament was suspended as window blinds saturated with lime chloride Water was drawn from pumps stationed in streets throughout the city, the water rationed and serving hundreds of people. The pumps were open only during certain hours of certain days, the water to be carried home in pots or jugs, or just tasted in a pittance of a sip. The richer homes may have had a tin or copper bath tub. But in the early 1800s piping was still confined to the first floor, the water heated by kettles over an open fire.
The chamber pots of the working class were usually made of copper, although later ones might be of crockery. The chamber pots for the rich and royalty were solid silver, the kings' ornate and pretentious. James I had a portable "potty," which he used for traveling. All the chamber pots, of course, were carried and emptied by servants.
The Necessaries: But for sheer invention, there is the relic of Sir John Harington's "Ajax" water closet, the first "necessary" ever built in English history. He built the toilet in 1596 for his godmother, Queen Elizabeth I (immortalized as the queen who took a bath once a month "whether she need it or no"), and installed it for her use in Richmond Palace. Although the Queen did use it, the toilet and Harington were subject to ridicule and derision. Harington never made another. It would be another 200 years before the idea took hold again.
The first patent for a "modern" toilet belongs to Alexander Cumming, who invented the "S" trap in 1775. It had a sliding valve underneath to hold the water. Three years later, Joseph Bramah, a locksmith and engineer, patented an improved version with two hinged valves. An original is still used in the House of Lords. The "Bramah" also became a prototype for closets on boats and ships.
The Good Life: In 1848, England passed the national Public Health Act, which would become a model plumbing code for the world to follow. It mandated some kind of sanitary arrangement in every house, whether a flushing toilet, or a privy, or an ash pit. The government also released 5 million British pounds for sanitary research and engineering, and began to build a sound sewer system. Now that there would be outlets for toilet systems, their manufacture made sense.
With this new incentive for invention, pottery makers including Josiah Wedgwood, Thomas Twyford, and John Shanks began to team with the inventors as they replaced brass and metal workings of Bramah's invention with all ceramic parts.
By 1858, George Jennings had popularized public lavatories. He had introduced the novelties by installing them in the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition of 1851; over 827,000 people paid to use the "necessary convenience."
By 1870, Thomas Twyford's improved version of the Bramah contained no metal parts, and Bramah fell out of production. And, although Jennings' pedestal vase toilet of 1884 won the Gold Medal at the Health Exhibition, it was Twyford who is credited with the revolutionary design of a one-piece toilet. Before, a toilet was built in two parts: the top part a bowl, and the bottom half holding a separate pan. To keep the two together, the entire unit had to be contained within a wood box. The box would leak at the joints, and the smell would be terrible.
In 1885, Twyford pioneered the first trapless toilet and built the "Unites" as a one-piece, free-standing unit on a pedestal base. This eliminated the problem of leaky joints and foul odor.
John Shanks devised a different test for his units. He would throw a cap into the bowl and pull the chain. When the cap disappeared, he would cry out, "It works!"
Acceptance of water closets came slowly at first. But as closets became better made, and as proper connection eliminated disease, production grew. But there were still sporadic cases of typhoid in the second half of the 19th century. One of the most notable cases affected the royal family. Queen Victoria's husband, the popular Prince Albert, had died of typhoid in 1861, as almost did her son, the future Edward VII, ten years later.
In 1871, the Prince of Wales lost his groom, a friend, and almost his life to an outbreak of typhoid in Londesborough Lodge where he and his friends were staying. His groom died as well as his friend, the Earl of Chesterfield. Investigation proved contamination in the plumbing lines, and the problem was corrected and eliminated.
The craftsmanship of the 19th-century sanitary engineer had come almost full cycle from the days of King Minos. In tribute, the Prince would be quoted as saying, "If I could not be a prince, I would rather be a plumber."
Extracts from ‘History of plumbing’ by the Plumber.
History of Plumbing in St Albans in Hertfordshire (Herts) ST ALBANS
Local History Click Here
History of Boiler manufactors Click here
Events in Hertfordshire Click here
Contact us today for your free home visit