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Alexander Cummings: Wikis


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Alexander Cummings was a Scottish watchmaker who invented the flush toilet. His premises were in Bond Street, London. [1]

The first patent for the flushing toilet (English patent 814) was issued to Cummings in 1775. In this design, the forerunner of the modern toilet, some water remained in the bowl after each flush to stop sewer gases from leaking into the house and creating an unsavory odor.

Sir John Harington had invented a water closet in 1596 with a proper flush, but no water trap. He built one in his house and his godmother, Queen Elizabeth I, used it. She was so impressed that she had one built at Richmond Palace. It was knocked down after Harington died and the toilet dropped into obscurity for nearly 200 years.


  1. ^ The Development of the Flushing Toilet - Detailed Chronology 1596 onwards, Twyfords Bathrooms, Stoke-on-Trent, UK (PDF)

Born in Edinburgh in 1733, Cummings was a mathematician and mechanic as well as a watchmaker. He wrote books about watch and clock work, about the effect on roads of carriage wheels with rims of various shapes, and on the influence of gravity. He became a magistrate and a Fellow of the Royal Society.

His water-closet had a pan with a slide valve across the bottom. When the user arrived the bowl contained a few inches of water held by the valve. Having finished, the user pulled a lever to slide the valve open and release the contents of the pan to the trap below and thence into the sewer. The same pull turned on the water to clean the pan and the valve was then shut so that the pan contained some water for the next use.File:Cummings.jpg

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