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Bathrooms through the ages part 6 – The Industrial Revolution

In part 6 of our look into Bathrooms through the ages we fast-forward to the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution was a defining period for British engineering, manufacturing and innovation which saw a huge growth in the size of British cities, although many still lived in squalid conditions. In 1801 (the year of the first census), the population of Britain was 9.3 million, but by 1841 it has swelled to 15.9 million, a 60% growth in just 40 years.

This caused a house building boom and saw the start of large scale terraced housing in and around major cities including London, Manchester and Liverpool. A block of up to 40 houses would have to share 6 toilets between them and with an estimated average of nine people living in each house, that meant each toilet could be used by up to 60 people.

The cesspits were emptied by the night-men who would load the sewage into a horse drawn cart before dumping it into the local river contaminating the water source. What made the matter worse was that it was the landlord’s responsibility to get the cesspits emptied. This cost up to £1 per cesspit, so landlord’s largely ignored the problem causing sewage to leak into the streets and causing diseases and other illnesses such as Cholera to become rife during the Industrial Revolution.

Baths were still a rudimentary item during the Industrial Revolution, but instead of wood they were now made from tin. They were filled with water collected from local water pumps, with the water heated slightly above the fire first. Tin baths were a fairly common household item during the early 1800’s, but because it was so time consuming to set up most people simply didn’t wash at all, instead using the tubs to do their laundry.

During the 18th Century cosmetics manufacturing moved from the home and into factories making them cheaper and more affordable for the majority of people. Pale skin and rouge were still highly fashionable, as well as having dark eyebrows. Some women even went as far as to wear fake eyebrows which were made from mouse fur and glued to the face.

Perfume was also a common commodity during the Industrial Revolution as the discovery of synthetic essences made production and cost much cheaper. It was so popular in fact that women would use it instead of taking a bath, which was a labour intensive and time consuming task.

The SS Great Western was and oak-hulled steamship purpose built for crossing the Atlantic. It was the largest passenger ship in the world between 1837 and 1839, and was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

The SS Great Western sailed to and from New York 45 times in 8 years until the Great Western Steamship Company went out of business in 1846. The ship was sold to the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company and was in service until 1856 before being scrapped.

industrial revolution comic sheet

Some ways that a bathroom makeover will benefit you

We have seen how upgrading your bathroom or indeed kitchen can improve the value of your home, a bathroom makeover is possibly the easiest as it does not require a change to the room, simply improving the existing design. You may have a bathroom that you inherited from the previous owner, or it could be the one that the builder of the home installed, which in all probability is an off the shelf bland suite. There are lots of reasons why a bathroom makeover is a great choice.

There are numerous ways that you may like to improve the layout of your current bathroom, bathroom furniture in the form of wall mounting cupboards, laundry baskets, electrical points for charging toothbrushes or powering an electric razor. Adding towel racks to your bathroom radiator, bathroom mirrors are some examples.

Phoenix Ciro Marango Base Unit and Basin

Phoenix Ciro Marango Base Unit and Basin

A very popular idea is to remove your current bathtub and replace it with a Jacuzzi or Spa bath. We have a number at our web pages and this will be your new way to relax. You could add a music system or even a waterproof television!

Most bathrooms in the UK are small, but that does not mean that they have to be uninviting, bright paintwork and decorative walls can give a small bathroom a new lease of life. Retro styled basins, WC’s, wash stands and modern taps which may look Victorian but offer the quality of 21st century technology. What’s better than a nicely heated floor when you step out of the bath or shower, underfloor heating mats are easy to install and they and neither expensive to buy or to run. Lighting can also transform a bathroom and an illuminated mirror is one way to achieve this, down lighters are another.

Roper Rhodes Clarity Equator backlit mirror

Roper Rhodes Clarity Equator backlit mirror

As we and the population get older, mobility is an obstacle that we all must face, the modern way to overcome some of the problem is to remove the bath and replace it will a wet room, no more climbing in and out of baths. Another option is to fit a corner shower cabinet, these take up little space and access in and out is easy.

You may not be considering selling your home but we can say that a bathroom makeover will improve the value, but above all selling or not, the best reason for improving your bathroom is that it is a room you use every day.

Naturally when carrying out these improvements you will be faced with some expense, so we have made this easier and now offer finance to spread your payments. We provide 0% Interest Free Finance on a number of major bathroom brands when you spend over £500, so what are you waiting for? Start planning your new bathroom today.

Potential home buyers put off by dirt and black mould in bathrooms

Our researchers have been busy finding out what puts off prospective home buyers when it comes to the bathroom and for most people it was ingrained dirt and black mould. Our study asked 1000 UK residents “What do you find most off putting in a bathroom when buying a house?” to which the majority of respondents (50%) said that black mould or a bad silicone finish was off putting in the bathroom.

“Mould! It might be an underlying problem!” Samantha (@PrincessP100)

“Damp and mould” Agata (@AgataPokutycka)

“Mould and/or spiders!” Chloe (@9grandstudent)

“Lime scale” Rosie (@Silly_Secrets)

“If buying then damp/mould as you can fit a new bathroom anyway but if renting then carpets, pink/brown/green baths and toilets.” Michaela (@YorkshireMumOf2)

Black Mould


Picture: aimee rivers

24% of respondents said that they would be put off a property that had an old or outdated bathroom, and 14% admitted that the colour scheme of the bathroom would be a turn off.

“Coloured bathroom suites and wood panelling…..#shudder” Lottie (@WhatLottieLoves)

“A coloured suite other than white. And too much floral print!” Caroline (@notesFcaroline)

Outdated Bathroom


Picture: tiffany terry

Cracked or damaged tiles would put off 9% of those questioned, as matching or replacing individual tiles is not an easy task, while others said that a newly fitted bathroom would cause them concern, leading them to ask what was it hiding and worries about whether it had been done on the cheap or not.

Some of those questioned said that the positioning and layout of the bathroom would put them off especially if the space was not used well, while some said that bad pipework and wiring would also make them think twice about buying a property as it can be expensive to upgrade.

“The bathroom being on the ground floor in a two story house!” Amy (@teacupcocktails)

“Not having both a bath AND shower.” Lora (@blogfrosting)

Our very own Mark Walters had this to say about the survey:

“From our extensive research we can now begin to understand what people look for in a bathroom when they are buying a property. This is a great help to potential buyers, sellers and estate agents alike. Not only is black mould unsightly it can also cause health issues in some. “

He added:

“Black mould can be problematic, but there are ways to clear it from your home and keep the amount it grows back to a minimum. If you’re selling your home, we would recommend tackling any mould issues you may have and keeping on top of it so you don’t put off potential buyers. “

“I’ve seen some terrible bathrooms in my time of renting & viewing! Ancient suites with no shower are the worst.” Becky (@BeckysBoudoir)

“Carpet. I ripped the carpet out as soon as got in.” Sarah (@MsSBurns)

“Just a shower, old decor! I love everything fresh, clean and modern!” Liza (@LizaPrideaux)

Black mould as well as looking unsightly, can, in some cases affect your health too; having black mould in your home could mean that there are ventilation issues within the home. Ventilation is key to reducing black mould and we would suggest fitting an extractor fan to help with the problem. Cleaning regularly and using mould removing cleaners will also help you to keep on top and often prevent black mould from forming.

The Ideal Bathroom

bathroom suite

Bathroom Furniture designed to make a statement

Getting the right furniture for your bathroom is an essential part of a bathroom makeover, whether you are just planning adding some extra items, or you are renewing the room from scratch, getting the bathroom furniture right will make a huge difference.

We have a dedicated section at our new and easy to navigate web pages. It is here that you will be able to locate furniture that will suit every style of bathroom you want to create. Naturally you will want good storage and at the web pages you will find a range of wall fixing cabinets, with illuminated mirrors if you need one; the HIB Orlando is just one of the very many examples on display.

HIB Orlando LED Illuminated Cabinet

We can offer corner fitted cabinets, cabinets that are semi recessed into the wall or traditionally above the sink. If you are undertaking a complete makeover, perhaps one of the new and exciting wash stations or wash stands as they are often referred to would certainly make a statement. The Imperial Cuda Open Vessel Bowl Unit is one item, or perhaps a vanity unit with built in sink such as the Bauhaus Design White 70 Wall Hung Two Door Unit & Basin which will give you storage space beneath the basin.

Imperial Cuda Open Vessel Bowl Unit

So whether you just want something to store your toothbrushes neatly, or a complete new bathroom, you will find it at our web site at prices that will not be beaten anywhere.

Bathrooms through the ages part 5 – The Elizabethan Era

In part 5 of our look into Bathrooms through the ages we focus on the Elizabethan Era. Although cultural and social behaviours and life in general had improved since the regression of the Middle Ages, people during the Elizabethan Era still had a way to go in the hygiene stakes.

In 1596 writer and poet Sir John Harrington invented the first flushing toilet with a cistern, but the idea failed to catch on. Instead people were content to use their existing chamber pots which they would empty into the street, or public cess pits which were emptied by men called gong farmers.

Baths were still only really accessible by the upper class during the Elizabethan Era and would have been made from wood; these were filled with hot water heated on the fire. It was a tedious and time consuming task, so even the rich wouldn’t bathe all the time, instead opting to have a bath every other week. The poor would usually wash themselves down with a sponge or rag using water heated in a hanging basin over a fire called a laver.

The wealthy used scented soaps which were imported from other countries and was made with olive oil instead of animal fats used in laundry soap. Scented soap was a luxury and was very expensive, so the poor made do with using only water to wash themselves.

During the Elizabethan Era upper class women and the nobility wore lots of make-up. As Queen Elisabeth I grew older she began to wear more elaborate make-up to cover up wrinkles and the signs of ageing; this trend of wearing heavy white make-up with pink cheeks became fashionable with women during this time and helped to maintain the illusion of beauty.

Queen Elizabeth I also set the trend when it came to hair, she often wore it high over the head and secured it with wires to create a heart shaped frame around the head. The ideal hair colour during the Elizabethan Era was fair or red and naturally curly like the queen herself and imitating her hairstyle was made even easier after the first metal hairpins were introduced in 1545.

Wigs became popular for wealthy women around the 1570’s as were natural hairpieces which historians believe could have been made from horse hair or even children’s hair.

Women’s fashion consisted of ornate gowns worn over corsets to create an hour glass look; these were extremely expensive, so only the rich could afford them. Skirts were held in place by a hoop skirt or farthingale and corsets were stiffened with reeds, wood or whalebone.

Men’s fashion consisted of a linen shirt and a doublet (a snug fitting jacket adorned with lace, embroidery and ornate braiding). Men’s trousers consisted of two separate legs worn over linen drawers; this meant that a man’s genitals were only covered by a layer of linen and as hemlines grew the popularity of the codpiece became prevalent.

The codpiece was originally a triangle shaped piece of fabric which covered the gap in the front of the trousers, but as the years went by codpieces became bigger and were usually padded to emphasize the area rather than to conceal it.

One of the most evident fashion accessories during the Elizabethan Era was the ruff. The ruff was worn by men, women and children and consisted of a piece of ruffled fabric that was attached to the neck with a drawstring. Ruffs were changeable pieces of cloth that protected the wearer’s doublet from getting dirty at the neckline and were available in a range of different sizes and widths.

Going to the theatre was an extremely popular activity during the Elizabethan era and is regarded by many as being the most brilliant period in the history of English theatre. Theatrical plays were largely centred in or around London, but plays would also be performed by touring companies all over England. The most famous Elizabethan playwright was William Shakespeare who wrote many of the famous plays during the period. Many Elizabethan plays are still performed to this day and attract millions of tourists to London each year.

elizabethan comic sheet

Adding value to your home with a new bathroom

Nothing has such a profound impact on a potential home buyer than the bathroom. You do not have to spend a fortune either; just a few simple changes can add huge value to your home.

Like other rooms bathrooms are an easy room to get wrong, but with so many excellent bathroom fixtures and fittings now available, it is becoming ever easier to add value to a home through your choices about which showers, baths and taps to add to your bathroom, plus of course the colour schemes. Using bathrooms to add value to a home is a commonly utilised ploy because it really is one of the rooms that a potential buyer of a property is unlikely to compromise on and they will want to see a bathroom that will have a certain wow factor that continues throughout the home. Making a few simple alterations to bathrooms can have a dramatic effect on the value of a property.

You do not have to be outlandish with your design of bathroom; often it is the bathroom which has simpler and modern looking fixtures and fittings that make the biggest impression on those who view them. Classy bathroom furniture or a digital shower is often all that is needed. Estate agents will confirm that renovating a current bathroom really is one of the very best means of adding a significant amount of value to a property.

Aqualisa QUARTZ Digital Concealed Shower System with Slide Rail Kit

Victorian Opulence – The Downton Bathroom Effect

They are calling it the “Downton” effect but thousands of people are admiring the undoubted opulence of the Victorian era and for many renovating a bathroom into a period classic is first on the list. We have always had a good selection of Victorian style roll top baths and with the addition of some exciting new products from the Burlington range, we feel sure that your home will not be outdone by Downton Abbey!

Let us start by suggesting a look at the Burlington Harewood slipper bath, the distinctive feet can be supplied in chrome, white or black. Add to that is the design which will accommodate free standing or deck mounted taps; we illustrate a wide selection at the Burlington pages.

Burlington Harewood Slipper Bath

The basin is the most important part of your bathroom and amongst the many options the Burlington Regal Victorian Large Basin and Pedestal will be admired by all that see it. You can chose from a one, two or three tap hole version to suit the taps of your choice. It may look mid twentieth century, but it is modern and very functional. The Burlington Regal will not take up too much space, but it does make a huge statement.

Burlington Regal Victorian Large Basin And Pedestal

Complete the bathroom with the Burlington High Level WC and the Downton effect is getting that step closer. Yet again you could be fooled into thinking that this was a genuine Victorian item, it certainly looks like one. However the big but is that it has 21st century technology with a dual flush system with a high level cistern mechanism. The rigid chrome rod will deliver water saving 3 litre flush or a complete flush of 6 litres. Choose the classic wooden toilet seat from a choice of white, oak, or mahogany finish; your classy Victorian bathroom is complete.

Burlington High Level WC

Bathroom radiators – adding luxury and warmth to your room

This is the time of year when we really notice and appreciate a lovely warm bathroom, the range of bathroom heated towel rails and radiators has never been better and we are rightly proud of the range offered at our web pages.

If you are considering upgrading or installing a heated towel rail into a new bathroom, there are some things that you may wish to consider before buying. Do you just want a heated towel rail or is it more likely that the size of the room will mean that you need to combine the two.

For example a small room can mean that a heated towel rail can do the job for you. The towel rail can either be plumbed into your heating system or you could if it is more practical have an electric powered one.

For the larger bathroom, or in a home where many people can be hanging towels onto the rail, we suggest that it may be better to have a standard radiator and fix some hanging rails onto it.

For some really exciting radiator designs that are remarkably efficient as well as good looking, Aestus Arezzo Designer Radiator is quite breath-taking. Manufactured from high quality stainless steel tube, available in a polished steel finish, the radiator is suitable for both open and closed circuits either left or right handed to choice.

This is just one example of the many radiators that are offered, contemporary, designer or traditional, all our radiators are at our unbeatable prices, which will not be bettered anywhere.

Aestus Arezzo Designer Radiator

Bathrooms through the ages part 4 – The Middle Ages

In part 4 of our look into Bathrooms through the ages we focus on the Middle Ages. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire came the Middle Ages, a period in history which saw a huge social change, international conflicts and dreadful natural disasters. Seen by many as a time of stagnation and regression after the fall of Rome, people in the Middle Ages had very different bathroom habits to those during Roman times.

For many people in the Middle Ages the toilet was simply a hole dug in the ground with a wooden toilet seat placed over it, however monks did built public toilets out of stone or wood situated over rivers.

In Medieval castles the toilet was called a garderobe and was a simple vertical shaft with a stone or wooden seat on top. Most garderobes emptied into the moat, but at Portchester Castle in Hampshire, stone chutes were built on the outside wall of the castle facing the sea. When the tide would come in it would wash away the sewage.

People used to hang their robes and other clothes in the garderobe, believing that the smell would get rid of moths. Over time the word garderobe changed into the word we now associate with hanging clothes up in today, a wardrobe.

During the Middle Ages the wealthy use rags to wipe their bottoms, whilst ordinary people used a plant called great mullein or common mullein.

Only the wealthy could afford to have a private bath in their residence. The majority of people did not care about their personal hygiene or even keeping clean in general, though when they did bathe they would use a wooden tub with a tent like structure over it to protect their dignity. Attendants would bring out pots and jugs of warm water to fill the tub.

During the Middle Ages glass mirrors all but disappeared, this is because during this deeply religious period of history confessions stated that the devil was watching from the other side of the glass. Women instead used either polished metal mirrors or specially shaped water bowls to see their reflections.

Full plate armour developed in Europe during the late Middle Ages and were made from iron or steel plates that would completely encase the wearer. A complete suit of armour could weigh up to 25kg, but the wearer was still able to remain highly agile as the weight was spread over the whole body. It would take a knight approximately half an hour to suit up in full armour, provided he had someone helping with the laces and buckles.

Eating habits of the wealthy and poor during the Middle Ages was very different. The lord of the manor would usually have a three course meal, but each course would have between four and six courses in it, including a range of meats and fish as well as an array of wines and ales. Some of the more unusual dishes included pigeon pie, woodcock and even peacocks.

Ordinary people during the Middle Ages ate a lot of bread and a dish called pottage. Pottage is a kind of soup stew made from oats that sometimes had beans and peas added to bulk it out. Turnips and parsnips were also staple food sources. Bread and ale were an important source of nutrition during the Middle ages, and ale in particular was drunk in copious amounts because it was safer to drink than many other water sources. The ale was boiled in the production process killing off many of the harmful pathogens.

Here is part four of our Bathrooms through the Ages comic strip:

medieval comic

All in one cloakroom solutions

This is the time of year when the house in likely to be full of guests or friends dropping in for a Christmas drink and a chat. It is also the time when perhaps we wish we had just a small room downstairs that was a handy cloakroom to take the pressure off the family bathroom.

Well often we have a small cupboard, even an under stairs cupboard that can be turned into a useful downstairs cloakroom. Space is of course the limiting factor and this is why we believe that the Aqua Cabinet All in One Cloakroom Solution could be the answer.

This cleverly designed item is designed to get the utmost out of a small space ideal for that cupboard. The All in One incorporates surface mounted basin, floor standing storage unit, toilet roll dispenser and toilet brush holder in one simple but embracing design. The basin can be supplied as a left or right handed version, similarly the cabinet door can be full reversed so you have total flexibility when installing; supplied in White, Reef, Black or Ocean colour finishes.

Aqua Cabinets All In One Cloakroom Solution

To complete the cloakroom a toilet is needed and the Saniflo compact WC & Macerator is ideal for the purpose. This utilises a macerator and in a traditional white finish this unit offers the perfect combination of comfort, functionality and economy of space. Without the need for a cistern or external tank, this smaller unit is the perfect choice for the smaller closet space or en-suite.

Saniflo compact WC & Macerator

So perhaps a little late for this year’s celebrations, these items are the perfect solution for installing a cloakroom in a little used space.