History of the Bath Tub, New Iberia and Lafayette, LA

In New Iberia and Lafayette, LA we may take showers for granted. But the original showers were neither indoor nor man-made; instead, people used common natural formations: waterfalls. The falling water rinsed the bathers completely clean and was more efficient than bathing in a traditional basin, which required manual transport of both fresh and waste water. Ancient people began to reproduce these natural phenomena by pouring jugs of water, often very cold, over themselves after washing. Evidence suggests that early upper class Egyptian and Mesopotamians had indoor shower rooms where servants would bathe them in the privacy of their own homes. However, these were rudimentary by modern standards, having rudimentary drainage systems, and water was carried, not pumped, into the room.

The ancient Greeks were the first people to have showers. Their aqueducts and sewage systems made of lead pipes allowed water to be pumped both into and out of large communal shower rooms used by elites and common citizens alike. These rooms have been discovered at the site of the city Pergamum and can also be found represented in pottery of the era. The depictions are very similar to modern locker room shower, and even included bars to hang up clothing. Roman bathhouses can be found all around the Mediterranean and as far out as modern-day England.

The advanced water and sewage systems developed by the Greeks and Romans quickly broke down and fell out of use after the fall of their empires. It was not until the 19th century that a system nearly as complex or reliable as the Greek and Roman sewers was rebuilt. The first showers in the modern era were self-contained units where water could be reused several times. In the early 19th century, the English Regency Shower was anonymously invented. The original design was over 10 feet tall and was made of several metal pipes painted to look like bamboo. A basin on the top of the unit was connected to these pipes so that the water could be pumped through a nozzle and over the occupant’s shoulders before being collected and pumped back into the basin. This prototype went through several renovations including hand-pumped models, models with several sprayers, and those with interchangeable nozzles. The reinvention of reliable indoor plumbing around 1850 allowed the free-standing showers to be connected to a running water source, which made them easier to use.

The first modern shower was used in 1860 by the French army, as an economic hygiene measure. The system was adopted in 1872 by François Merry Delabost, a French doctor and inventor, who replaced individual baths with mandatory communal showers for use by prisoners, arguing that they were more economical and hygienic. We often see such showers today at military installations, locker rooms, and community showering facilities. So much history and work went into something that has become such a routine part of our daily lives. Every time you turn the nozzle to take a shower, take a moment to thank the plumbers who worked hard to develop a system that could be personalized and provide maximum efficiency for your life.

The same is true for the plumbers at Pipes and Plugs. Whether you have a plumbing, gas, or electric issue you can rest assured that Pipes and Plugs have the right knowledge, training, and experience to solve your problem the first time. We are firmly committed to customer service and quality work!

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