Plumber in Peckham

Fresh from your expert plumber in Peckham – The history of the bidet

You want a plumber in Peckham. That’s us. But we’re no ordinary plumbing firm. We genuinely love what we do, which means we’re always on time and keen to get cracking. Our customers say they enjoy having us around because we’re professional, friendly, know what’s what, and leave everything tidy.

We’re fascinated by weird and wonderful old legacy plumbing systems too. So no matter how baffling yours might seem, we’ve probably come across something similarly horrid before, which means we won’t just stand around scratching our heads. We’ll figure out a solution without a fuss, then we’ll get on with the job.

How come we’re so into our work? It’s because plumbing – believe it or not – is utterly fascinating. Honestly! Take the humble bidet, popular in the EU but still a bit of a joke here in Britain. How much do you know about this quirky alternative to loo roll? And why are bidets coming back into style in Britain, having been a laughing stock for so long?

A brief history of the bidet

A ‘bidet’ is actually French for a small horse, a creature you straddle in much the same way as a bidet, hence the name. Apparently the French invented the bidet, and early models were built for the bold and brave, a simple bowl of water that you squatted over, all very basic and probably not very nice.

The earliest known written reference to the bidet as we know it dates back to 1710. Forty years later the bidet à seringue was invented, with a clever upward spray and hand-pumped taps. But the squatting bit hadn’t changed. Shuffling across the bedroom – where bidets traditionally lived – from your chamber pot or ‘gazunder’ to the bidet, with your trousers round your ankles, wasn’t the safest, most comfortable or enjoyable experience in the world.

Today’s bidet scene

During the mid-1900s US toilet manufacturers made some improvements to the design, but the American market refused to adopt the innovation and most were exported. It was modern plumbing that finally brought the bidet into the bathroom.

Today’s bidet scene is very different. You can buy separate bidet and toilet sets, though they remain quite rare in the UK. But it still means staggering across the bathroom with your pants round your ankles. Having said that, the Japanese are incredibly innovative where toilets and the like are concerned, and they manufacture an astonishing variety of all-in-one loo-bidet systems, featuring a baffling array of spray technologies designed to keep your nether regions sparkling clean. They’re more like a space station than a loo, to be honest, with their heated seats, retractable cleaning jets, sensors, automatic controls, dryers and deodorants.

Here in Britain bidets enjoyed a surge in popularity during the 1970s along with bistros, quiche, fondue fountains, Pampas grass and Mateus Rose wine. We recently visited a house that hadn’t been decorated since 1975 and had a ceramic bathroom suite – bidet included – in the most extraordinarily nasty butterscotch colour. It was so old it’d gone through trendy twice and was fast approaching becoming fashionable for the third time.

These days people who have septic tanks or cess pits, which don’t take much loo roll before blocking up, buy bidets. But contemporary bidet tech is a lot more clever and discreet than it used to be. You can buy a variety of small devices, some cheap as chips and others more expensive, running to a couple of hundred pounds. You plumb them in to the hot and cold water supply and they simply attach to the loo seat. Some spray you from underneath, others are more like shower heads with flexible hoses. You can even buy a rather splendid steampunk-style brass version.

Not only does a bidet keep you lovely and fresh. It saves a fortune on loo roll and wet wipes, which you actually shouldn’t flush down the loo anyway since they’re rarely 100% biodegradable. It means your household contributes less to the horrendous fatbergs that regularly block our sewerage systems, especially in the capital. And, of course, you use fewer trees.

Bidets, bathrooms, heating systems, you name it, we’ll fit, maintain and fix it. Give us a call on 0203 092 3649 and let our obsessive, fully-qualified team loose on the job!