UK Bathrooms Archive

Bathrooms through the ages part 8 – Modern Times

We’ve made it to present day with our bathrooms through the ages cartoon and the principle of the bathroom hasn’t really changed since Victorian times. In the majority of bathrooms there is still a bath, toilet and a basin which all work in a similar way to their Victorian counterparts.

Nowadays, every house in the UK has a bathroom, even those that weren’t originally built with a bathroom now have a room dedicated to going to bathing. This created a boom in the sector, spawning hundreds of bathroom manufactures from the 1900’s onwards, some of which are still trading today.

Modern bathrooms have changed throughout the decades with heavy cast iron baths being replaced by cheaper and lighter resins, acrylic and fiberglass. This revolution lead to many different colours of bathroom suites to suit individual tastes and peeked people’s interest for the latest in bathroom design.

From the 1950’s right through to the 1980’s coloured bathroom suites were the norm; pastel colours such as pink, blue and green were all the rage and the shower was also becoming a popular way of saving time in the bathroom.

During the 1990’s and early 2000’s people’s tastes changed again, this time going back to standard white bathroom suites, with accents provided by coloured walls, tiles and mood lighting. Showers now became the norm, with many households getting rid of the bath completely, opting instead for a shower enclosure.

However, over the last decade people have moved back to older designs with Victorian bathroom suites becoming a popular fixture in the home again. Modern comforts have also become popular such as walk-in steam showers and eco-friendly toilets, and as technology advances we can expect to see a whole new sector of ergonomic and technologically advanced designs including interactive screens and water saving features.

Part 8 Modern Times

Bathrooms through the ages part 7 – The Victorian Era

In part 7 of our look into Bathrooms through the ages, we are looking at the Victorian era and their bathroom habits. Most houses built during the Victorian era featured non-flushing toilets or ‘privies’ often located at the end of the garden or street.

The Victorians developed and built a network of sewer systems to improve hygiene in major cities, and although early wall mounted water cisterns improved things, early waste pipes allowed the smelly sewer gas into the house and the idea never caught on.

It wasn’t until 1891, when Thomas Crapper patented a new valve and siphon system which eliminated smells coming from the sewers that well-to-do Victorian houses started to have inside water closets fitted. Toilet paper had been on sale in the US since 1857, but for the majority of people it was expensive and regarded as a luxury. Many families during the Victorian era and into the early 20th Century used torn up pieces of newspaper instead.

Up until the late 19th Century, the bath was made of copper or tin and was portable meaning that there was no plumbing attached to it; the bath was often used in the kitchen or the bedroom. The poor would collect water from the local water pump and heat it on the fire, while the wealthy would have a purpose built gas water heaters that the servants would use to fill the bath up with.

Once indoor plumbing and gas water heaters became more accessible to the middle classes there became a need for a dedicated space in the house for the bath as it was no longer portable, leading to the first bathrooms to be built. By the end of the Victorian era, bathrooms became a standard feature in most newly built houses.

Make-up on women was largely frowned upon during the Victorian era, with many believing that women that wore make-up were prostitutes, so limited use of cosmetics was the rule for most women.

Women often used pastes to smooth their complexions and to make their skin paler, a sign that they did not work in the fields. Cosmetic products would have been purchased from the local pharmacist, from doctors, or if you were wealthy imported from abroad.

Victorian women often used arsenic to improve their complexion too. This was mixed with vinegar and chalk; it was often eaten or rubbed on the face and arms to improve the skin.

Thomas Edison invented the first commercially viable incandescent lightbulb and was first publically demonstrated on December 31st 1879 in Menlo Park, New Jersey. Many of the incandescent electric lamps that had been invented before were impractical and suffered from short lifespans, were expensive to produce and drew a high electric current.

During the first public demonstration of his incandescent lightbulb Edison famously said, “We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles.”

Part 7 The Victorian Era

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

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

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

Bathrooms through the ages part 3 – The Romans

Part three of our Bathrooms through the ages focuses on the Romans and their bathroom habits. The Romans were sophisticated builders and architects who built an array of underground sewers and pipework to service their public lavatories and baths; they even had a goddess of the sewers called Cloacina.

While only the wealthy had toilets in their homes, the majority of Romans used one of the many public lavatories spread throughout the land; these communal toilets had no privacy and consisted of a long stone or marble seat with holes cut into it with no partitions at all. Public lavatories had their own plumbing and sewer systems which were flushed with water from the bath houses. Toilet paper did not exist in Roman times, instead people would use a sponge on a stick called a spongia.

Bathing in Raman times was also a communal activity. It was only the extremely wealthy that could afford a bath in their home, so most people used public facilities called thermae. Most Roman cities had at least one thermae which were used for socialising as well as bathing. These buildings were supplied with water from a river or stream, or more commonly from an aqueduct. The water would be heated by a log fire and channelled to the hot bathing rooms via an intricate array of pipes.

Most public baths would include an outdoor gymnasium called a palaestra where men would engage in various activities and exercises including weight lifting, wrestling and discus throwing. Because soap was still an expensive commodity and not widely available, Roman men would cover themselves in oil, shower or bathe and remove the excess oil with a small curved metal tool called a strigil.

Cosmetics were first used in Ancient Roman times for ritual purposes, but soon became a part of daily lives for women. Fashionable cosmetics were imported from as far away as China and were very expensive and only affordable by the wealthy, this spawned an array of cheap knock-offs that were sold to poorer women.

Although poorer women could afford cosmetics they would have rarely worn them as they were time consuming to apply and would have needed constant reapplying due to the weather conditions and poor composition of the products.

Hair dying was popular among women, who would a range of natural ingredients to colour the hair. Animal fats and beechwood ashes were used to dye the hair red, whereas saffron was used to dye the hair gold.

Although frowned upon by society, men also used cosmetics. Two of the more acceptable practices for men was the use of perfume and moderate hair removal. Removing too much hair was viewed as effeminate, while removing too little was viewed as being unrefined.

Mirrors in Ancient Roman times were mainly made from polished metals such as bronze or silver, but some were made with mercury placed behind a piece of glass.

The Colosseum in Rome is considered by many to be one of the greatest feats of Roman architecture and engineering. This elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city could hold between 50,000 and 80,000 people and was used for many events including gladiatorial contests, re-enactments of famous battles and public spectacles such as animal hunts and executions.

When the Colosseum ceased to be used for entertainment during the early medieval era, it was converted into housing and workshops. It has also been used as living quarters for a religious order, a fortress and a quarry throughout its existence.

So without further ado, here is part three of our Bathrooms through the Ages comic strip:


Bathrooms through the ages part 2 – Ancient Egypt

In part two of our Bathrooms through the Ages cartoon strip, we focus on Ancient Egypt. A time of Pharaoh’s and pyramids, the ancient Egyptians were surprisingly aware of the benefits of good hygiene and also used cosmetics to enhance their looks.

In Ancient Egypt rich people actually had bathing areas and toilets in their homes. Carved stone baths and basins have been excavated near the ancient city of Tebtnuis and toilet seats were found to have been made from limestone; they would have a container underneath filled with sand which would be emptied regularly.

Those who were not rich enough to have a bathroom in their home would have been content to clean themselves in local rivers or in the sea. For soap, the Egyptians used a mixture of natron, ash and clay which could be worked into a lather for cleaning; this was often scented with flowers, fragrant wood or oils to give it a pleasant smell.

Cosmetics were a widely used commodity in Ancient Egypt, with both men and women and rich and poor using them for aesthetic as well as therapeutic reasons. Essential oils were rubbed into the skin to protect it from the hot air of the dessert, and make-up was believed to have magical and healing powers.

Most Egyptians applied make-up themselves, although the rich often had professional cosmeticians that could make a range of different coloured cosmetics. White make-up was widely used to cover the face while black make-up, made from carbon was used around the eyes. Red ochre was ground up and mixed with water, it was then painted onto the lips as an early type of lipstick and added to the cheeks like a blusher to add colour.

The Ancient Egyptians were quite technologically advanced for the time, able to build huge structures such as the pyramids and sailing boats, and were expert glassmakers. Mirrors were a common sight as well and were made from beating a piece of bronze until it was about 3mm thick and polishing it to a shiny finish.

‘Walk Like an Egyptian’ was a number one hit for The Bangles in 1986; it was written by Liam Sternberg and was influenced by Ancient Egyptian reliefs carved into tombs and monuments across Egypt.

Part two of our cartoon strip is below:


We’ve created a fun comic strip on bathrooms through the ages!

Here at ukBathrooms we just love anything bathroom related and over the year have been conducting research into the habits of Brits when it comes to their bathrooms to help us offer the best service and products as possible.

This time we thought we’d do something a bit different and look at bathrooms of the past and how they differ from today. Our tongue-in-cheek cartoon strip takes you through the ages and gives you an insight into how bathrooms have developed over the centuries.

In our first strip we imagine what prehistoric man would use as a bathroom during the Stone Age in our own humorous way. TV shows and movies such as the Flintstones and the Croods have imagined what bathrooms of this era could look like, but archaeological research suggests that a bathroom would be an unlikely addition to a shelter, instead all bathroom facilities such as washing and going to the toilet, which would be no more than a whole in the ground would have been placed away from the dwelling.

Our talented artists are creating a whole series of cartoons depicting different time periods including Ancient Egypt, the Middle Age and the Industrial Revolution, showing you how bathrooms have changed over the years.

Here is number one – the Stone Age bathroom:


Great Le Tour offers from ukBathrooms


To celebrate Le Tour de France coming through our base of operations in Ripon, North Yorkshire, ukBathrooms is offering a free, Yorkshire-made shower tray and 90mm high flow waste with selected Merlyn Series 8 shower doors and enclosures.

Made in Yorkshire, by well renowned bathroom manufacturer April Products, these fantastic shower trays are a very high standard and come complete with a lifetime guarantee, and will be given away for free to those customers who purchase selected Merlyn Series 8 shower doors and enclosures.

Merlyn Series 8 Sliding Shower Door

This is a limited offer, so if you are in the market for a fantastic shower enclosure at a great price and want to celebrate Le Tour de France with us, then it is advised that you place your order sooner rather than later so you don’t miss out.

Merlyn Series 8 Twin Door Quadrant Shower Enclosure

Merlyn showers have some of the best quality shower doors and enclosures available and come standard with their ‘Mershield’ technology. This special coating helps reduce water marks and dirt build up, meaning less cleaning and more time for relaxing 🙂

Merlyn Series 8 Hinged Shower Door And Double Inline Panel

The 8mm thick toughened safety glass also comes with a lifetime guarantee for peace of mind, so what are you waiting for? Order your Merlyn Series 8 shower door or enclosure today and get a free shower tray and 90mm high flow waste.

Will you be visiting Yorkshire to watch Le Tour de France’s Grand Depart? Get involved and leave you comments below.

Creating a modern en suite

En suites provide a private area to wash and groom away from the main bathroom and are great for busy families and lifestyles. In this article we’ll show you some of our favourite products for creating the perfect modern en suite, that won’t break the bank.

Shower Enclosure

Simpsons Design View Inward Opening Quadrant Shower
The Simpsons Design View Shower Enclosure is sleek and stylish, and built to last. It’s clean lines and durable 8mm toughened glass make it ideal for an en suite, and it also features a reversible door making installation and positioning easy.

Measuring 1400mm x 900mm and 1950mm high, the Simpsons Design View Shower Enclosure makes a perfect focal point for any modern en suite. It also features a lifetime guarantee for peace of mind and is finished with a silver frame.

Simpsons Design View Inward Opening Quadrant Shower


Crosswater Solo Fixed Shower Head 200mm

To finish off your shower design, you can’t go far wrong with the Crosswater Solo Fixed Shower Head.

Elegance by Crosswater: a mix of traditional design and contemporary styling making the most of your new bathroom. Wall or ceiling mounted, this elegant shower head provides the best showering experience thanks to its integrated air-fusion system.

This quality shower head is engineered and manufactured to exacting standards, and comes complete with a 15 year manufacturer guarantee.

Crosswater Solo Fixed Shower Head 200mm


Ideal Standard Concept Cube 40cm Handrinse Basin
The Ideal Standard Concept Cube Basin is perfect for any en suite and can be fitted with an optional full or semi-pedestal and has a choice of 1 or 2 tap holes. Available in gloss white, this basin was designed by award winning designer Robin Levien and comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Offering outstanding value for money, the Ideal Standard Concept Cube Basin is perfect for small bathrooms and en suites alike.

Ideal Standard Concept Cube 40cm Handrinse Basin

Basin Tap

Phoenix CA Series Basin Mixer Tap

Another great statement piece, the Phoenix CA Series Basin Mixer Tap is the pinnacle of style and design. Ideal for both high and low pressure systems, this mixer taps unique design and waterfall effect adds to the visual appeal of your en suite.

This tap is also eco-friendly and comes equipped with an Enviro-Click cartridge, which can save you up to 50% of your water. It is also backed by a 10 year manufacturer’s guarantee for peace of mind.

Phoenix CA Series Basin Mixer Tap


Ideal Standard Concept Cube Close Coupled WC Suite

To match in with the basin design, we have chosen the Ideal Standard Concept Cube toilet. Its compact design makes it a great addition to any en suite and comes complete with everything needed to install it straight away.

Designed by the legendary Robin Levien, this stylish toilet has a soft close seat and push button flush to save you water. This toilet features a lifetime guarantee on the pottery so you can be sure of many years of service.

Ideal Standard Concept Cube Close Coupled WC Suite

Bathroom Cabinet

Noble Primo Aluminium Illuminated Mirror Cabinet

The Noble Primo Aluminium Illuminated Mirror Cabinet is lightweight and easy to install. It features a low voltage overhead light for better visibility and an inner shaving socket. It’s compact, yet stylish design is great for small bathrooms and en suites, and is perfectly suited for other Noble Furniture products such as wall units, vanity’s and freestanding units.

Noble Primo Aluminium Illuminated Mirror Cabinet