Nov 11, 2021, Inspiration

A brief history of the shower

Take a look at the history of the shower and how it has evolved over the years.

For many of us, taking a daily shower is part of our everyday routine. Approximately half (49%) of people living in the UK have a shower or bath at least once a day and one in five (20%) have a shower four to six times a week*. That’s a lot of time spent in the shower!

But showers haven’t always been so simple – We take a trip through time and look back at the history of the shower – from waterfall showers in the Ancient World, to the first modern shower – invented in 1767 by William Fettham – to the advent of the modern electric or digital showers that we use today.

 

The first shower
We begin our journey with our ancestors who lived in caves and huts that they built from natural resources. All those centuries ago, the only powerful source of water was waterfalls. Ancient tribal people would simply stand under the falling water to clean themselves.

Unlike today, where the majority of households have showers, people would have to travel miles to hunt out a waterfall, as this was a much more effective way of cleansing rather than bathing in a pool or lake.

The Ancient Egyptians
As society advanced, ceramic jugs were invented and the Egyptians were able to replicate the effects of a waterfall by pouring water over themselves. This was the first manmade way of showering.

The Egyptians also introduced an element of luxury and comfort to the bathing experience. Wealthy people in Egypt would order servants to bring jugs of water to dedicated shower rooms.

baths v showers the environmental impact

The Ancient Greeks
The Greeks adopted this idea and improved upon it by developing the first drainage systems. They invented a system that allowed water to be transported in and out of the rooms via lead piping.

And it wasn’t just the wealthy few benefiting from this, they also built large, communal areas where everyone could wash together.

Roman Times
The Romans may not have built the first sewer system, yet they were pioneers in both plumbing and public health. For example, they created sewage systems for disposing of the wastewater – by 315 AD, Rome had 144 public toilets.

As a group of people, they had high standards of cleanliness. The Roman’s constructed large bathhouses, not only in their native land, but across Europe.

However, the collapse of both the Roman and the Greek empires, lead to the technology used for showers to be put on hold for a few hundred years.

The first ‘modern’ shower
Fast forward to 1767, when the first patent for a shower was granted to William Feetham, a stove maker from Ludgate Hill in London. These early modern-day showers were powered by a hand pump and used less water than baths.

 

The first ‘designer’ shower
The development of the electric shower was a gradual process, starting with the English Regency Shower, and completed with the emergence of modern plumbing in the 20th Century. In the 19th Century, the English Regency Shower was invented by an unknown entrepreneur. This was the first hot water shower and was designed with a metal frame and painted to look like bamboo. It was however, still powered by a hand pump that pushed water through a tank.

Indoor plumbing was invented in late 19th Century, when people could easily use free-standing showers connected to a running water source.

Late 19th century shower styles. Illustration via Plumbing and Sanitation Catalogue of J.L. Mott

 

When was the first electric shower invented?

By the 1960’s, tankless water heaters were invented with made modern showers – known as electric showers – available to the wider public in the UK. This allowed consumers to generate an instant supply of hot water without relying on a water tank.

Today’s showers
It wasn’t until the early 1980’s that showering as we know it became popular with the masses. Shower manufacturers could now offer a wide range of different types of shower enclosures, showerheads, body jets and LED lights.

The future of showers
During the 21st Century, we have seen the invention and rise of digital showers. So, it only leaves us to wonder what the future holds for showers and how this technology can help to create the ultimate showering experience.

shower in safe environment for the whole family

To find out more about how you can create your own ultimate showering experience contact MERLYN today.

*Sources:
https://yougov.co.uk/topics/health/articles-reports/2019/01/07/three-quarters-brits-probably-shower-too-much
https://visual.ly/community/infographic/lifestyle/history-showers
https://www.showerdoc.com/blog/a-brief-history-of-the-shower