Decorated pedestal water closet 'The New Humber', c 1880.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
After the cholera epidemic of 1832, the British government pased laws requiring houses to have some kind of flushing toilet. As a result, Britain led the world in the construction of a good sewer system and in the production of indoor 'water closets', or toilets - particularly after the innovations made by Thomas Crapper's flushing toilet of 1872. Victorians regarded attractive toilets as a status symbol and many finely decorated examples were made, such as this one made by Steven McDowall & Co, 4 Upper Thames Street, London.