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A Look Inside The First Bathrooms

Plumbing, hot water and flushing toilets are taken for granted in our bathrooms today but it took centuries for our culture to develop them and bring them all together. 

In Greek and Roman times and through the middle ages, people collected their cooking and washing water from rivers or wells. In the cities, waste could be tossed out into the road or dumped into pits and emptied by the night soil men. 

When the plague hit England and a link was made between the danger of mixing human waste and water, public bathhouses were closed and eventually replaced with pipes delivering water directly to homes. Contaminated streams and gutters were enlarged, covered over and turned into urban sewer systems. 

At first, washstands were often in the bedrooms however eventually the benefits of bringing all the plumbing to one place were recognised and the idea of the separate bathroom was born. 

Permanent toilets first started to appear in homes in New Zealand in the late 19th century. They were basic water or earth closets which simply flushed the waste into a cesspit, or buckets where the contents were simply covered with dirt. 

The first high-pressure system was built in Wellington in 1899 which meant that toilets could now flush waste properly, away from the home and into sewers. Still, the backyard toilet was common in New Zealand well into the 20th century. 

As plumbers developed their trade, the bathroom became increasingly mainstream and accessible to all classes. Today, local plumbers such as Tauranga’s Eco Plumber Gas offer a wide range of bathroom solutions including economical products that reduce water usage so you can benefit from lower energy bills and protect the environment. It's a long way from how bathrooms began!