The History of Toilets-W.C

We each spend three years of our lives on the toilet, but how happy are we talking about this essential part of our lives? This film challenges that mindset by uncovering its role in our culture and exploring the social history of the toilet in Britain and abroad – as well as exploring many of our cultural toilet taboos.

Starting in Merida, Spain with some of the the earliest surviving Roman toilets, we journey around the world – from the UK to China, Japan and Bangladesh – visiting toilets, ranging from the historically significant to the beautiful, from the functional and sometimes not-so-functional to the downright bizarre.

Leading our journey is Everyman figure, Welsh poet and presenter Ifor ap Glyn, who has a passionate interest in the toilet, its history and how it has evolved over the centuries, right up to the development of the current design. Finally, there’s a glimpse of the future and a possible solution to the global sanitation issues we now face.

Kitchen Design and Planning

With any room it is advisable to draw a scale plan showing the location of the fixed and heavy items before you set about the task of ordering and remodelling. With the kitchen it is more than advisable—it is essential. There are so many things to be fitted into the room and there are so many ways you can do the wrong thing. You can shift settees, tables and lamps in the living room, but you cannot just move a sink, cooker, and washing machine from one spot to another if you have made a mistake. The first job is to write down all the factors which must be considered before drawing up the plan:

• Is the kitchen large enough? If not, can a wall be knocked down or an extension built? Take care — you should always consult a builder or an architect before moving kitchen walls.

•Who will use the kitchen? If children will be around, you must think of the safety. If the family is large you will need a lot of storage space.

•Are the services suitable? Remodelling is an opportunity to replace old pipes, have stopcocks fitted etc.

• Is cooking important? If meals are simple and entertaining is an uncommon event, it is not worth wasting money on a large and complex oven. If frozen food is frequently used you will certainly need a microwave oven.

• How often do you shop? Obviously you will need much more storage, refrigerator and freezer space if you shop weekly or fortnightly rather than daily.

• Do you plan to eat in the kitchen? Space may be a problem, but family meals in the kitchen make life much easier for the housewife, and even a small room can usually accommodate a breakfast bar.

• What fixtures do you plan to keep and what do you intend to replace? • How much money can you afford? Left off some checklists in the textbooks, but a vital consideration for all of us! There may be other points you wish to consider before getting down to the detail of planning. Once the plan is complete you should collect catalogues for the items of major equipment you propose to buy. Try to see the goods before you order. Shop around — check whether installation is included in the price.

kitchen design planning layout

Beginning the plan

Mark out the floor plan on graph paper—it is also useful to draw wall plans. Although the measurements on this page are given in inches, it will probably be better to work in metric units these days. The usual scale is 1/20. Draw in doors, windows and the location of pipes, drains, electric points etc. Then mark the position of all appliances and units which are going to remain. The next step is to cut out pieces of card to represent the equipment and units you plan to install. Before coming to a decision, carefully study the concept of the Work Triangle and the 5 basic kitchen styles.

The Work

Triangle The heart of the kitchen is the triangle formed by the refrigerator, sink and cooker — in a very small room this may be condensed to a line rather than a triangle. For the sake of safety avoid having the sink and cooker on either side of the line of traffic, especially if children and dogs are present. A door when opened should not enter this triangle. For the sake of efficiency keep the total length of the sides of the triangle to less than 20 ft.

Completing the plan

Having chosen one of the 5 basic arrangements it is necessary to site the main equipment and units.

Following these needs as far as possible, move the cardboard shapes around to give you the ideal arrangement. If there is a piece of equipment which you want but cannot yet afford, leave a space and fill with a temporary unit. Check the completed plan. Have you arranged for sufficient 13 A plugs (minimum 5) above the work surfaces? Have you positioned the tallest units (eg a broom closet) in a corner or at the end of a run of units? Have you put the sink, washing machine and dishwasher close together to make plumbing easy?

kitchen london

Contact Kitchen Fitters and Installers in London for a free Quote.

Connecting a Vanity Wash Basin

Taking out a wall-hung or pedestal basin and replacing it with a vanity unit is part plumbing and part carpentry.

vanity bathroom basin

You will need to disconnect the old basin, cut a hole in the surface of the vanity unit to take the new basin, fit the basin and reconnect the supply pipes. Before buying the ready-made unit, measure the available space carefully, then choose the counter-top basin to fit the new unit. The taps, basin and cupboard can all be bought separately, but to ensure that the complete unit is compatible it is obviously easier if you buy everything from the same source.

bathroom basin

The counter-top basin fits into a hole in the top of the unit; usually the manufacturer supplies a template for cutting the hole. There are several different types of basins: the self-rimmed ones overlap the counter tops and are supported by them; the frame-rimmed model is secured with lugs that connect frame, basin and counter top. The unrimmed recessed basins are held by bolts and metal flanges. All must be sealed with mastic silicone sealant. You will also need a slotted waste connection, an overflow fitting, a suitable trap, and tap connectors to enable the final connection of the water supplies to be made to the taps.

15 mm pipes and valves

Corrugated flexible copper pipes (15 mm) facilitate easy connection of the supplies, especially in awkward places, and are obtainable with tap connectors already attached. Integral ring-type fittings can be used for all joints. They cost slightly more than end-feed fittings but this factor is offset by the ease with which they can be installed: using a blow torch, you need only apply sufficient heat to melt the solder and the joint is complete.

London Bathroom Fitters

Interior of a kitchen in London, 1862

Interior of the kitchen at the city prison, Holloway,London, in 1862

old kitchen

“One boiler contained a large quantity of broth, with huge pieces of beef… Another boiler contained a large quantity of potatoes which had just been cooked. They were York Regents of an excellent quality. A different boiler contained an enormous quantity of gruel, made of the best Scotch oatmeal, to be served out for supper in the evening. It was filled to the brim, with a white creamy paste mantling on the surface. Cocoa is given on alternate days, and is prepared in the other coppers we saw alongside.”

Installing a shower

A purpose-built shower unit offers a convenient and economical way of extending the facilities of a bathroom. Since such showers are self-contained and waterproof and take up less than one square metre of floor space, they can be built into a variety of areas: it could be the corner of a bedroom, a cloakroom, a utility room, or even an empty cupboard under the stairs. However, the purpose-built shower unit don’t really complement the bathrooms.

shower installers

Some experience of home plumbing would be an advantage for this project, and at times you will need a helper. There are five main steps: extending the supplies to the site; mounting the shower tray on to a wooden plinth attached to the floor; extending the waste; installing the metal framework and sliding doors that, together with the walls of the room, make up the shower cubicle; and fitting in place the shower mixer valve that blends the hot and cold supplies, and the sprinkler head attached to this valve.

To comply with water authority by-laws a shower must be supplied with a separate, independent cold supply from the cold water storage cistern. The vertical distance from the bottom of the cistern to the shower outlet must be at least 1 metre; otherwise the water pressure will be insufficient to provide a satisfactory spray. That apart, the position of the shower will be determined by the proximity of hot water supplies and of waste pipes. Before installing the unit prepare a diagram of existing pipework.

Extending the supplies to the shower site entails laying new copper piping, which should be firmly supported at regular intervals with pipe-clips. You may be able to run part of the piping beneath floorboards, but some of it will probably have to be bracketed to a wall surface and then boxed in. How you tackle this problem will be determined partly by the site of the shower and partly by your own ingenuity.

The exact way in which the supplies are connected to the shower mixer valve will depend, in its turn, on the direction of the extended supply pipes. The shower area should be well ventilated to prevent condensation. If there is no nearby window it may be advisable to install an extractor fan in the outside wall, or at any rate an air vent.

Assembling a bathroom basin vanity unit

Vanity unit basins are usually sold complete with a waste and overflow unit which resembles that of a modern stainless steel sink. A flexible tube connects the overflow outlet of the basin with a sleeve or ‘banjo’ unit which fits tightly round a slotted waste fitting. With both types of basin the flange of the waste outlet has to be bedded into the hole provided for it in the basin on a layer of plumber‘s putty. The thread of the screwed waste must also be smeared with jointing compound to ensure a watertight seal where the ‘banjo’ connects to it.

bathroom basin vanity unit


The outlet of the waste must, of course, connect to a trap and branch waste pipe. At one time it was the practice to use ‘shallow seal’ traps with a 50mm (2in) depth of seal for two-pipe drainage systems, and ‘deep seal’ traps with a 75mm (3in) depth of seal for single stack systems. Today, however, deep seal traps are always fitted. Of course, the modern bottle trap is one of the most common types used. It’s neater looking and requires less space than a traditional U-trap. Where it’s concealed behind a pedestal or in a vanity unit you can use one made of plastic, but there are chromium-plated and brass types if you have a wall-hung basin where trap and waste will be clearly visible. The one drawback with bottle traps is that they discharge water more slowly than a U-trap. You can now also buy traps with telescopic inlets that make it much easier to provide a push-fit connection to an existing copper or plastic branch waste pipe.

Connecting up the water supply

It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to take out the old basin and install a new one without making some modification to the pipework. It’s almost certain that the tap holes will be in a different position. To complicate matters further, taps are now made with shorter tails so you’ll probably have to extend the supply pipes by a short length.

If you’re installing new supply pipes, how you run them will depend on the type of basin you’re putting in. With a wall-hung basin or the pedestal type, the hot and cold pipes are usually run neatly together up the back wall and then bent round to the tap tails. But as a vanity unit will conceal the plumbing there’s no need to run the pipes together. You might find it difficult to bend the required angles, so an easy way round the problem is to use flexible corrugated copper pipe which you can bend by hand to the shape you need.

You can buy the pipe with a swivel tap connector at one end and a plain connector, on which you can use capillary or compression fittings at the other. If you’re using ordinary copper pipe, the easiest way to start is by bending the pipe to the correct angle first, and then cutting the pipe to the right length at each end afterwards.

Preparing the basin

Before you fix the basin in position, you’ll need to fit the taps (or mixer) and the waste. It’s much easier to do this at this stage than later when the basin is against the wall because you will have more room to manoeuvre in. When fitting the taps all you have to do is to remove the back-nuts and slip flat plastic washers over the tails (if they aren’t there already). The taps can then be positioned in the holes in the basin. When this has been done more plastic washers (or top hat washers) have to be slipped over the tails before the back-nuts are replaced. It’s important not to overtighten these as it’s quite easy to damage a ceramic basin.

Because some vanity unit basins are made of a thinner material, you may find that the shanks of the taps fitted into them will protrude below the under-surface of the basin. The result is that when the back-nut is fully tightened, it still isn’t tight against the underside of the basin. To get round the problem you have to fit a top hat washer over the shank so the back-nut can be screwed up against it. Mixers usually have one large washer or gasket between the base of the mixer and the top of the basin and you fix them in exactly the same way. When you’ve fitted the taps you can then fit the waste. With a ceramic basin you’ll have to use a slotted waste to enable water from the overlfow to escape into the drainage pipe. Getting this in place means first removing the back-nut so you can slip it through the outlet hole in the basin – which itself should be coated with a generous layer of plumber’s putty.

It’s essential to make sure that the slot in the waste fitting coincides with the outlet of the basin’s builtin overflow. You’ll then have to smear jointing compound on the protruding screw thread of the tail, slip on a plastic washer and replace and tighten the back-nut. As you do this the waste flange will probably try to turn on its seating, but you can prevent this by holding the grid with pliers as you tighten the back-nut. Finally, any excess putty that is squeezed out as the flange is tightened against the basin should be wiped away. A vanity unit will probably be supplied with a combined waste and overflow unit. This is a flexible hose that has to be fitted (unlike a ceramic basin, where it’s an integral part of the appliance). The slotted waste is bedded in in exactly the same way as a waste on a ceramic basin. You then have to fit one end of the overflow to the basin outlet and slip the ‘banjo’ outlet on the other end over the tail of the waste to cover the slot. It’s held in position by a washer and back-nut.

Fitting the basin

Once the taps and waste have been fixed in position on the new basin, you should be ready to remove the old basin and fit the new one in its place. First you need to cut off the water supply to the basin, either by turning off the main stop-valve (or any gate valve on the distribution pipes) or by tying up the ballvalve supplying the main cold water storage cistern. Then open the taps and leave them until the water ceases to flow.

If the existing basin is a pedestal model you’ll have to remove the pedestal which may be screwed to the floor. Take off the nut that connects the basin trap to the threaded waste outlet and unscrew the nuts that connect the water supply pipes to the tails of the taps. These will either be swivel tap connectors or cap and lining joints. You’ll need to be able to lift the basin clear and then remove the brackets or hangers on which it rests. You’ll probably need some help when installing the new basin as it’s much easier to mark the fixing holes if someone else is holding the basin against the wall. With a pedestal basin, the pedestal will determine the level of the basin. The same applies with a vanity unit.

But if the basin is set on hangers or brackets, you can adjust the height for convenience. Once the fixing holes have been drilled and plugged, the basin can be screwed into position and you can deal with the plumbing. Before you make the connections to the water supply pipes you may have to cut or lengthen them to meet the tap tails. If you need to lengthen them you’ll find it easier to use corrugated copper pipe. The actual connection between pipe and tail is made with a swivel tap connector – a form of compression fitting. Finally you have to connect the trap. You may be able to re-use the old one, but it’s more likely you’ll want to fit a new one. And if its position doesn’t coincide with the old one, you can use a bottle trap with an adjustable telescopic inlet.