Shower Sets

The reinvention of reliable indoor plumbing around 1850 allowed free-standing showers to be connected to a running water source, supplying a renewable flow of water. Modern showers were installed in the barracks of the French army in the 1870s as an econo

The reinvention of reliable indoor plumbing around 1850 allowed free-standing showers to be connected to a running water source, supplying a renewable flow of water. Modern showers were installed in the barracks of the French army in the 1870s as an economic hygiene measure, under the guidance of François Merry Delabost, a French doctor and inventor.

As surgeon-general at Bonne Nouvelle prison in Rouen, Delabost had previously replaced individual baths with mandatory communal showers for use by prisoners, arguing that they were more economical and hygienic. First six, then eight shower stalls were installed. The water was heated by a steam engine and in less than five minutes, up to eight prisoners could wash simultaneously with only twenty liters of water.

The French system of communal showers was adopted by other armies, the first being that of Prussia in 1879, and by prisons in other jurisdictions. They were also adopted by boarding schools, before being installed in public bathhouses. The first shower in a public bathhouse was in 1887 in Vienna, Austria. In France, public bathhouses and showers were established by Charles Cazalet, firstly in Bordeaux in 1893 and then in Paris in 1899.

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