Armitage Shanks and the sanitary revolution

Armitage Shanks taps, toilets and basins have been synonymous with bathroom fixtures and plumbing supplies for well over 150 years now. The original company from which it evolved was founded by Thomas Bond in 1817 in Armitage in Staffordshire and the Armitage ‘sanitary pottery manufacture’ became one of the UK’s most successful toilet manufacturers.

Throughout this period, the flushing toilet, along with extensive municipal sewage systems, have been one of the most important innovations for the health of the nation. From the beginning to the middle of the 19th century, patents for water closet valves were being submitted that would allow waste to be disposed of effectively without the danger of gas build up in the sewers. Other improvements such as wall mounted cisterns to increase water pressure and the use of vitreous china as a strong impervious material with which to build the toilet were also evolving throughout the century.

The design of the toilet also mirrored designs of the time. Early examples of Victorian mainly blue and white sanitary wares, although browns and reds were also used, were very elaborate indeed and are now very collectable. Examples for sale can be found on architectural salvage web sites where cisterns with elaborate brackets can be bought for as little as £70 although blue and white basins and toilet bowls covered in transfer printed flowers to pretty them up may cost over £300.

Although Armitage Shanks has been bought out by an American company and now operates out of the US, its history as one of the founder manufacturers of sanitary wares will always remain with us. Boundary Bathrooms is maintaining that proud history today.

Leave a Comment