It’s World Plumbing Week, which means we’re reflecting on the world we live in and the way that plumbing has impacted us. It turns out plumbing makes a huge difference to our lives and we wanted to share some of our findings with all of you!

World Plumbing Day Metro Rod



The Past

  • The earliest evidence of plumbing comes from a discovery by archaeologists in Indus River Valley in India, with copper pipes that date back to around 4,000BC.
  • Copper was a popular material for early drainage as the ancient Egyptians used the same for their pipes!
  • The Romans changed things up a bit, using lead for the material for their drainage systems. In fact the word plumbing derives from the word Plumbum, which is Latin for lead, so when asking “What have the Romans ever done for us” we can reply that they arguably invented sanitation and gave us a word for it, too!
  • Some famous people have sadly died in the bathroom, such as King George II, Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison and Evelyn Waugh, though the causes of death were usually unrelated to bathroom activities (heart attacks and  aneurysms for example)
  • Drainage and plumbing have lead to some exciting historical finds; back in 2006 a drainage trench was being dug in London when contractors came across the site of a chapel from a lost Tudor Palace.
  • Tudor times were a particularly messy time for drainage, given that there was none! Back in those days waste was just thrown into the streets… lovely!
  • Things got better as time went on, but even the Victorians were plagued with drainage issues: the Great Stink of 1858 was so great that it shut down parliament due to the smell of the drains emptying into the Thames. Far worse than the smell were the outbreaks of cholera that we now know were caused by contaminated water.


The Present

  • In the UK, we have safe and clean water and excellent drainage facilities for the most part. It is important to ensure that your drainage is correctly connected in your home to ensure the foul drainage is not pumping directly into the environment. The Connect Right Campaign can tell you more.
  • Back in the 1940s pitch fibre drainpipes were laid as they were seen as the future of drainage. These pipes are now leading to problems in the present!
  • The luxury of a toilet: it may seem like a basic necessity, but as 2.3 billion people don’t have access to toilets it suddenly feels a lot more luxurious, even though we often take it for granted!
  • Similarly, we might consider Cholera to be a Victoria disease, confined to history, the World Health Organisation counted 9 separate outbreaks in 2018.
  • Lack access to clean and safe toilets in schools in developing countries directly hinders girls education. This is just one of the problems the World Toilet Organisation is committing to tackling.


The Future

  • The goals of many worldwide organisations are to bring safe, clean, accessible water and drainage to those without and there are many ways to get involved.
  • Here in the UK, we are encouraged to think about our water usage as we head into the future.
  • Smart drains are something we might see more of over the next few decades as technology enables us to build drainage that can think for itself!


Happy World Plumbing Week everyone! 

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the history of plumbing and have been as surprised as we were about some of the amazing facts! And do remember, if you find yourself requiring our services, Metro Rod Milton Keynes, Bedford, Luton and Watford can; unblock toilets and drains, empty septic tanks, carry out a CCTV survey, unblock sinks, vac your gutters and even remove graffiti!

We also offer a whole host of drainage and emergency plumbing services, if you are unsure of the issue or how to resolve it, contact us here at Metro Rod in one of the following ways:

Give us a call 01582 666543 between 8am and 5pm,
Or FREEPHONE 0800 66 88 00 anytime.
Or Email us: [email protected]