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A Brief History of Showers


A Brief History of Showers

It’s believed that the practice of indoor showering (as opposed to standing outdoors under a waterfall) began with the ancient Greeks but the first mechanical shower was patented by stove maker William Feetham in England in 1767. From its humble beginnings as little more than an overhead bucket of cold water with a chain, the shower has taken many forms over the years.

1800s –The Needle Shower

By the 1880s, showers had advanced to the stage of being plumbed-in fixtures found mainly in wealthy public bathing areas such as gentlemen’s sports clubs and as such were used mainly by men. The needle shower was considered to provide many health benefits over and above cleanliness with jets of water being aimed at different areas of the body to give an invigorating and massaging effect. For this reason the needle shower was also known as a liver shower and its circular cage-like construction meant it was sometimes referred to as a rib shower.

Early 1900s – The Canopy Shower

Around the turn of the century, showers were becoming popular fixtures in wealthy private homes. The canopy shower made of porcelain enamel was fitted at one end of an enamel bathtub and the whole thing was designed to look like an elegant piece of furniture. The original mahogany finish was later replaced with a much more decorative Oriental look and stenciled friezes became the height of bathroom sophistication.

1920s – Showers for Every Home  

By the 1920s many ordinary American homes had a shower fitted over the bath. Popular stores such as Sears were selling off-the-shelf showers in 1915 and buyers could choose from shower curtains made of heavy cotton or rubber-lined silk.

1960s – A Common Bathroom Fixture

A survey of middle-class American home owners conducted by Cornell University in 1965 revealed that over 85 percent of households in this bracket had a shower and a tub in the family bathroom. Most new homes now had a shower fitted as standard. Interestingly, showers only became common fixtures in other countries including Britain in the 1970s and 80s.

Need a shower upgrade to bring yours into the 21st century? Talk to one of our professional consultants today.

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