Design: Evolutions In Design No 3: The Shower

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The Independent Culture
THE FIRST refreshing shower fell upon Adam and Eve, unbidden. Thereafter generation begat generation until the time of the Noah family's embarkation when the natural shower had became rather too much of a good thing.

After this, records are scanty until the Roman era. Their plumbing arrangements were admirably sophisticated: water, of varying temperature, was channelled to flow down upon the citizens with all the force of gravity. Then came the Dark Ages, which lasted for dirty centuries. Only the advent of a proper water-supply during the of Victoria enabled domestic engineers to design a proper shower. In 1897, before electricity, you could use legs to pump a pedal-shower, which was hard work. In 1902 the company founded by Thomas Crapper, produced an "Independent shower-bath with spray". And in 1910 a bath was marketed with a curved enamel wall at one end, full of spouts. A children's home in Stockport had one, but gave it away because it used too much water.

As our century advanced, showers began appearing in many homes, though the English really preferred a bath. But since the power-shower everything has changed. The ultimate model is to be found at Cedar Falls Health Farm. It is England's only Vichy shower, imported from the French spa. It is magnificent and this is how it works: the showerer and attendant enter a tiled room where the former lies on a plastic couch and is oiled by the latter. A long metal arm, studded with nozzles, is swung across the recumbent body, whose spine is then pummelled by powerful jets of water. The room fills with steam. Everything becomes misty and dripping. The resultant sensation of decadent well-being is powerful enough to have brought about, without assistance, the rout and total collapse of the Roman Empire.

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