Spending a Penny (A)

Season 2018 / 2019 – Talk 14 A – Spending a Penny

Spending a Penny (A) is the first part of the talk by Tim Davies.

The organisers of the Great Exhibition appoint George Jennings to provide the ‘necessary convenience’ for the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. He installed ‘monkey closets’ used by over 827,000 visitors. The charge? One penny! Visitors got a clean seat, a towel, comb and shoe shine.

Tim tells us about the many euphemisms for ‘spending a penny’. Do they come from a taboo?

The Romans had very advanced baths and sanitation. They were 1500 years ahead of their time in Britain.

Tim then talks about Chamber Pots and how they were disguised as furniture.

For many years the rivers were sewers. The ‘Great Stink’ of 1858 mad Parliament take notice. The Thames, the lifeblood of London, was the biggest sewer of all.

The talk continues with a description of ‘Garderobes’. These draughty cold places were a feature of many castles.

The monasteries had their ‘necessary houses’. In Canterbury the facility was 145 feet long! Tim describes Jerichos, earth closets , miner’s ‘netty’ and the ‘Zimbabwe long drop’.

Tim then talks about the ‘Thunder Box’. No explorer left home without one! And then there were the ‘night soil men’ who dealt with disposal.

The first British water closet was invented in 1596 by Sir John Harington. He was a godson of Queen Elizabeth I. 182 years later Joseph Bramah perfected the technology. It was in use for over 100 years.

The talk then introduces George Jennings.

Please click on one of the images as you listen to the talk to open the gallery.

The Farnham U3A site is at Farnham U3A Home Page.

AKM Music has licensed Media Magazine for use as the title music.

© The MrT Podcast Studio and Farnham U3A History Group 2019

Author: Tim D

In the early 1970s Mr Timothy & his Phonograph was a popular mobile disco around Leeds University and Tim was known as MrT. Tim also spent 9 years broadcasting a weekly programme on Hospital Radio in Wakefield. He worked for more than 40 years for large industrial organisations and spent his last 15 years in global commercial management roles. Following retirement he started making podcasts in 2017.