The History of The Pedestal Toilet

This article on the history of the pedestal toilet was first written by Ross Horne. You can read the article in his book Cancerproof Your Body.

The toilet first became popular in England in approximately 1850, and its use soon spread throughout the civilised world.

It was originally designed by Joseph Bramah, a cabinet maker, and improved upon by Thomas Crapper, a plumber.

There is some disagreement over who actually invented the sitting toilet. However, it is generally accepted that the first modern chair-like water closet (WC) was invented by English cabinetmaker and plumber John Harrington in 1596.

Harrington’s WC was not adopted on a large scale for more than 200 years, as it had many problems. But the lack of plumbing was the main reason why it didn't take off.

The toilet designers of the day (Harrington, Bramah, Crapper and others after them) were not men of medicine. All of them did not recognise the mechanical advantage that squatting offers the body.

As it happened, the 'new' toilet caught on quickly because it came on the scene at the same time as plumbing, which allowed for clean disposal of what had previously been stored in chamber pots or dumped in the street.

Not was the general public aware, which is why the toilet became the norm before anyone knew it.

When he wrote the history of the pedestal toilet, Ross Horne did not mention the underlying reason why the inventors came up with the idea of sitting toilets. To them, sitting seemed more dignified than squatting, the posture used by the natives in the English colonies and the developing world.

quotation about squatting, why squatting is better than sitting It was not until the early 1900s that wise doctors, faced with dramatically increased incidence of disease, questioned the conventions of the time - and the convention most suspect was the (sitting) toilet.

In his book The Culture of the Abdomen published in 1924, Dr William Welles quoted leading medical authorities of the time who were very outspoken about the toilet's faulty design and ensuing health consequences.

This was what he wrote: "It would have been better if the contraption had killed its inventor before he launched it under humanity's buttocks."

Constipation, hernias, varicose veins, haemorrhoids and appendicitis were also attributed to the use of the toilet.

A solution to the dilemma was offered in the form of a footstool used to elevate the feet to the approximate squatting posture. At one point, the footstool was so popular it was being sold at Harrod's of London.

The use of footstools - an attempt to mimic the squatting
posture – does not provide the full benefits of squatting,
as explained in FAQ No: 5


1) Ross Horne, 'History of The Pedestal Toilet', Cancerproof Your Body

2) William Welles, DC, 'The Importance of Squatting', Natural Health Society Journal, Penrith NSW

Find out more about the origins and evolution of the modern toilet: Who Invented The Toilet?

Discover why traditional squatting toilets found in Asian, Middle East and African countries are superior to Western style toilets: The Best Toilet

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