Before Water Taps


Pearson & Co Improved Water Filter Chesterfield.

We take piped water for granted. Turn on a tap and there it is. But it wasn’t always that easy.

Where did the drinking water come from before cities had water systems? Rain barrels, shallow wells, a spigot in the center of town, or if you were lucky, you lived near a spring. Even with water available, it was contaminated. It had to be boiled before consumed.

Thus, the ceramic water filter came into use in the 1830s. The water filters were made by the potteries in England. The system was fairly simple. It used gravity to move the poured water through a filter made of charcoal, clay or sand to remove pollution and bacteria. A spigot at the bottom of the filter would dispense the water.

In manor houses, servants would pour water into a free-standing decorative stoneware filter.  The large crock would be located in the kitchen area and then, the clean water would be dispersed through the house in pitchers. The water filter crock would improve the water clarity, remove smells and improve the taste. To make the water taste even better, the servants would pour the water from pitcher to pitcher in an attempt to add air to the heavy water.

If you watch English period dramas, you’re sure to see them in the “downstairs” area.

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Filed under Antiques, What is it?

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