Thomas Crapper, 1836-1910; Sanitary Pioneer. Manufacturer, supplier and installer of sanitary goods (bathroom fittings, W.C.s etc.) plumbing and drainage. Improver and promoter of the 'Water Waste Preventer' (the syphon fitted in British cisterns); promoted plumbed-in bathroom fittings and brought them 'out of the closet'; inventor and patentee; Sanitary Engineer and supplier of goods to kings, princes, the nobility and gentry; founded Thomas Crapper & Co. in 1861; successful entrepreneur, publicist, Mason and member of the Royal Horticultural Society.
Thomas Crapper was born in Waterside, a hamlet near the Yorkshire town of Thorne, in 1836. The exact date is unknown but it is thought he was born in September. His family were of modest means although his father, Charles, was a steamboat captain. When he was around 14 years of age he was apprenticed to a Master Plumber in Chelsea, London. After serving his apprenticeship and working for three years as a 'journeyman plumber', in 1861 he set up his own company at Robert Street, Chelsea
Subsequently in 1866 he moved the expanding business to the Marlboro' Works, in nearby Marlborough Road. (Much later the name of the street was changed to become part of Draycott Avenue, as the General Post Office complained there were too many roads in the capitol named after the war hero, the Duke of Marlborough.)
Mr. Crapper took a partner, Robert Marr Wharam (pronounced 'Wareham') who brought financial and accounting skills to the enterprise and together they built a sizeable firm with an ever-greater reputation.
In the 1880's Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, purchased Sandringham House in Norfolk as his country seat. He set about improving and extending the building as a royal palace. Crapper & Co. were invited to supply and install their finest wares for the bathrooms, cloakrooms and indeed all the plumbing and drainage for the project. Thomas Crapper thus gained his first Royal Warrant.
During a tour of inspection of the work with the Prince, His Royal Highness asked Mr. Crapper for a light for his cigar. Our founder did not smoke and so could not oblige....... but from that day forward he habitually carried a gold matchbox in his pocket! The firm received another warrant from Edward when he became King and another from George V when he was Prince of Wales. A fourth was granted (just after Mr. Crapper's death) when George V ascended the throne.
Of course, such royal approval helped business greatly and Crapper fittings were rightly considered the finest of the time. Many commissions were received for sanitaryware at all manner of buildings, grand and not so grand. The list includes Park House, where (much later!) Princess Diana was born and even Westminster Abbey. Victorian Crapper goods are still doing reliable service in private and public buildings all over Great Britain and abroad. The manhole covers of Westminster Abbey (inscribed 'T. Crapper & Co., Sanitary Engineers') are popular with tourists for wax-crayon rubbings as mementoes of their visit! Some Crapper W.C.s were recently discovered as far away as New Zealand. We are contacted regularly by people who have antique Crapper wares in their homes and we are pleased to assist with spare parts and restoration when required.
However, the company mainly prospered because of their famed quality, attention to detail and service. Every item was checked and tested before it left the works and only the best apprenticed engineers were employed. From the earliest days a repairs workshop was installed next to the foundry. The company could hardly conceal their glee when regularly asked to repair broken sanitaryware produced by less-fastidious competitors! It is doubtful that any other firm offered such a service.
All the hard work paid off and Mr. Crapper enjoyed the fruits of his labours, buying respectable houses, goods and furniture. He and his elder brother, George (who helped him when he first established the business) drank in the Finborough Arms, in Kensington. Regularly, they would regularly begin the working day in the tavern with a bottle of champagne - a tradition the current managing director would sincerely love to revive!
For some time, many of us have wondered just who Jack Schitt is. We find ourselves at a loss when someone says, "You donít know Jack Schitt." Well, thanks to my genealogy efforts, you can now respond in an intellectual way.
Johann Schitt, so known to his native Amish, is the only son of Awe Schitt. Among his "English" friends, in time he came to be known as "Jack." Awe Schitt, the fertilizer magnate, married O. Schitt, the owner of Needeep N. Schitt Enterprises. Their one son was also Jack. He was known for years around town as "that little Schitt." Years later, Jack in turn married Noe Schitt. This deeply religious couple produced six children: Holie Schitt, Giva Schitt, Fulla Schitt, Bull Schitt, and the twins Deep Schitt and Dip Schitt. Bull Schitt rebelled against the pacifist family tradition and joined the United States Marine Corps, becoming one of its best known mess sergeants. Known for his ability to produce nutritious hot meals under the worst battle conditions, Bull Schitt is revered by Marines the world over as the creator of the "Schitt Sandwich."
Against parental objections, Deep Schitt married Dumb Schitt, a high school dropout. After 15 years of marriage, Jack and Noe Schitt divorced. Noe Schitt later married Ted Sherlock, and, because her kids were living with them, she opted to keep her previous name. She was thus known as Noe Schitt Sherlock.
Meanwhile, Dip Schitt married Loda Schitt, and they producted both a son and a daughter. The son, Chicken Schitt, had a rather nervous disposition and was known to be quite fidgety most of the time. Their daughter, Ima, later traveled worldwide and finally married a Russian named Sergei Bunchov. As Ima was a feminine activist, she chose to keep her own maiden name as well as adopting her husbandís family name. Ima Bunchov Schitt later developed serious psychological problems connected with self-esteem and recurrent depression.
Two of the other six children, Fulla Schitt and Giva Schitt, were inseparable throughout childhood and subsequently married the Happens brothers in a dual ceremony. The wedding announcement cited the Schitt-Happens nuptials. The Schitt-Happens children were Dawg, Byrd, and Hoarse.
Years later, Sergeant Bull Schitt, the prodigal son who had toured the world with the U.S. Marine Corps, returned from Italy with his Italian wife, Pisa Schitt.
Now, when some says, "you donít know Jack Schitt," you can set them straight.