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Why is 27 January a ‘Crapper’ Day than any other?

22 January 2016 10:52

Wednesday 27 January 2016 may seem like just a normal, ‘bog-standard’ day, but there’s more to it than that.

It is in fact ‘Thomas Crapper Day’ and is a celebration of the man who helped make the humble toilet a feature in every household and pioneered the ballcock within the toilet cistern that is still a feature today. To mark this day, NI Water is asking customers to reflect on where we might be today without a modern sewerage system, and consider how they can help ensure it works properly.

As the popularity of the flushable toilet grew, so did the quantity of rubbish that was put down it.  Popular folklore claims people actually made a living by scavenging early sewers for items such as jewellery, cutlery and coins, as well as bits of cloth and metal.  

Alec McQuillan, NI Water’s Head of Wastewater, comments:

“The world has changed dramatically since Thomas Crapper was alive, but there are many problems he would recognise immediately.  NI Water is still finding inappropriate items dumped down the sewer such as wedding rings, money, nappies, baby wipes, building materials, and even cuddly toys washing into pumping stations and treatment works, as well as rubbish that should be in the bin. Recently, we even found a child’s bike lodged down a sewer!

“Many people genuinely don’t realise the damage they are doing, not only to their own internal pipes, but also to the sewerage system they share with their neighbours.  It is only when faced with blocked drains and out-of-sewer flooding that they realise those ‘harmless’ baby wipes and other items are in fact creating chaos!  

‘‘NI Water is literally fighting a daily battle to keep the sewers clear, at a cost of £2.5 million per year.  However, this is a battle we will never win alone; we need the help of the entire community to make this happen.

“Further information on NI Water's 'Dirty Dozen' campaign - the twelve most common inappropriate items flushed into the sewerage system - can be found at”

Thomas Crapper also recognised the hygiene benefits of a flushable toilet, something we now take completely for granted.  However, the lack of proper sewerage and sanitation remains an everyday reality for many people around the world.  In all, it is estimated that 2.3 billion people – one third of the global population – do not have safe access to toilet facilities.   NI Water is a proud supporter of the international charity WaterAid, which works to provide safe water and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities, and is working towards ensuring that everyone has access to clean water and safe sanitation by 2030.  

All media enquiries to NI Water Press Office on 028 9035 4757 or email

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