Most of us have functioning drainage systems in our homes and workplace and it seems to not be a big deal. A constant stream of fresh water to remove the waste.

Back in the day, drainage systems were minimal or if apparent at all.  Let’s take a look at the drainage systems through the ages.

One of the oldest known drainage systems was created around 4000-2500 B.C.  by the Egyptians, they depended on the flow of the River Nile which was the primary source for water.Map Of Downtown Rome During The Roman Empire Large Annotated

Egyptian engineers created and used a very intricate piping system to keep the water flowing wherever it needed to go, the pipes were initially made from clay and were later upgraded to copper. This sophisticated system helped to move water from the River Nile to help water crops and even provide homes with running water.

Copper pipe was discovered inside a temple, experts have speculated that the copper pipes were used to drain well water that was hand-carried into the temple to bathe the king’s statues, these statues were anointed with oil as part of a daily purification ritual.


Moving to 600BCE. Romes ancient sewer system predates even the empire itself, and it’s still in use today!Cc Cloaca Massima Cover Letter Pnas 16x9

Romans enjoyed the convenience of the indoor latrines and plumbing the 100 meter long pipeworks original purpose was to drain to the nearby swamps.  One of the largest and most complex systems were called Cloaca Maxima translating to Greatest Sewer!

Originally this was an open canal before the Romans covered it over and turned it into an underground sewer, this created more sanitary conditions.


Whether Roman Sewers provided much sanitation or not the engineering was a big achievement, the systems allowed Romans to receive both freshwater and the transportation of waste.

They even had a goddess of sewers called Cloacina!



Alexander Cumming patented the first design of the flush toilet in 1775, previously an apprentice to a watchmaker, Alexander went on to design the S-shaped pipe located underneath the basin which helps to keep out the foul smells.Alexander Cumming Clockmaker

Alexanders design ensured that the water could be permanently retained within the bowl, this prevented sewer gases from entering buildings.

Today we still use modified versions of the design located below within the plumbing fixture.


Thomas Twyford was a sanitary ware manufacturer in 1879 he released his first sanitaryware. The washout trap water closet was first sold and was found as the public preference for basin type water closets. This later won an honorary award at Sanitary exhibitions. Thomas Twyford 0181c630 195e 45d8 8f33 0ed3d6f8a8a Resize 750

The free-standing water closet was later released to the marketplace and quickly gained popularity as it was easy to clean thus being more hygienic.


Bathroom technology didn’t really arrive until the 2oth century with flushable valves, water tanks and toilet paper rolls.  The US Energy Policy Act in 1992, required flush toilets to only use 1.6 gallons of water, as a result of this, companies all over the world moved to low flush toilets to prevent clogging.

38496377 504964076612786 1789419624761131008 NIn 2018 Microsoft founder Bill Gates attended the China International Import Expo in Shanghai where companies and research organisations are showing new toilet technologies which included self-contained toilets, a small self-powered waste treatment system and many other inventions.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation presented its own idea for their future toilet design concept which does not require water. Instead, it uses chemicals to turn human waste into fertilizer, there are several concepts for the toilet but all work by separating liquid and solid waste.

“The current toilet simply sends the waste away in the water, whereas these toilets don’t have the sewer. They take both the liquids and solids and do chemical work on it, including burning it in most cases.” Gates

Microsoft Founder Bill Gates Points At A Jar Containing Human Faeces During His Speech At The Reinvented Toilet Expo Showcasing Sewerless Sanitation Technology In Beijing

The Gates Foundation says poor sanitation costs the world over $200 billion a year in healthcare and lost earnings.

Gates said that the next step for the project is to pitch the concept to manufacturers and expects the toilet market to be worth over $6 billion by 2030, exciting times lay ahead for the development of the toilet!


If you have a blocked toilet or a drainage issue and for more information, you can visit our website if you would like to like to book in for a FREE site assessment with our technical engineer call us on 01225 344511 or email [email protected]

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