6 Fun Facts… about Drains!

Drainage is boring? Pipe Down..

No, your eyes do not deceive you, you read the title correctly. We’re going to be delving into the exciting depths of sewers and drainage systems.

It’s common knowledge that when you take the time to think about drains, it’s usually due to the fact they don’t work and are most likely causing you trouble! You may not think of this however, without them, we would be in a spot of trouble, and slightly ill.

First of all, for the people that don’t know the proper definition of drainage:

‘Drainage is the removal of water from the soil profile by natural or artificial means.  Drainage uses underground pipes and open ditches to carry water away from cropland during periods of excess moisture.’

With that in mind, here are some fun (and some concerning) facts about drains!

Egyptians Created Drainage Systems

What didn’t they create?! The Egyptians were one of the first documented civilisations to have created drainage systems. Water was a huge part of their purification rituals, so it was incredibly important to ensure their water was clean and healthy.



The Minoans

In Knossos on the Greek island of Crete, the Minoan Palace had four, yes, four whole drainage systems. These systems emptied sewage into vast sewers made of stone. Just think about how long it would have taken to build and fix them!

The Romans

They had to appear at some point, right? The Romans not only gave us the roads in which we’ve travelled on for hundreds of years, they also created sewer systems in Rome that were known as Cloaca Maxima.

Now we know why the Romans seemed to be bathing in luxury water in all of those films. They loved their baths so much that they built one of the greatest sewers in history.


Cloaca Maxima

The “greatest sewer” was bound to perk up your curiosity antennas. The monument is one of the oldest still standing in Rome. It was built as a canal through the Forum Romanum in the sixth century. It is often said that the Cloaca Maxima is still in use, this is not untrue.

The whole truth however is that only a trickle of water flows through the historic sewer – or sewers, as there are actually seven of them!

The Romans famously invented the aqueduct, in fact, some are still being used today to supply bath houses with water. By the 4th century AD Rome had 1,352 fountains, 11 public bath houses and a staggering 856 private baths!

Fair play, Romans!.

Alexander Cumming – Inventor of the Toilet 

The UK is not absent from aiding drainage either. Alexander Cumming created the two piece flushing toilet design, in fact, the very same design is still used today! Although, it was improved by Joseph Bramah in 1778. It goes without saying that thanks to these two men, the world is a far better and far cleaner place.




Thomas Twyford – Another Toilet Pioneer!

The UK strikes again with their revolutionary toilet concepts. Twyford created the one piece toilet, the first person to ever create a wholly ceramic toilet in fact. This is the same toilet that you will see in stores today!

There you have it, a brief insight into the interesting world of drainage! I’m sure this knowledge will aid you in spontaneous pub quiz nights and other trivia-based events.


Honourable Mentions

Plumbers Find the Weirdest Things in Drains..

Whilst this isn’t necessarily a fact, it deserves an honorable mention.

Plumbers performing drain cleaning find false teeth more
often than you might imagine. In one case, a man claimed he would use them again, despite being lodged in his drain pipe.



Fish are another common find for
plumbers. Turning up dead goldfish common for plumbers. Less common however, however is the 2.5lb trout that one plumber pulled up. ‘Normally I’d throw the little guy back, but in this case, I figured I should keep him.’



Plumbers in Scotland found a live badger during what was supposed to be a routine drain cleaning. The good news is that he was rescued and made a full recovery.




Imagine performing a video pipe inspection as part of a drain cleaning exercise and coming face to camera with a 7ft boa constrictor. The plumber continued to drain the pipe until the job was finished. If you think that’s bad, how do you think the plumber who found the 2.4f
t rattlesnake felt?


Other items that have been found include a birds nest, cigarette packets, mobile phones and even a men’s briefs!

Are there some items that you’ve found in your drains that we’ve missed? If so, comment below, we’d love to know!

Author: Greg Child

Greg is an expert in drainage and has been in the business for over 30 years. He's the owner of Coastal Drains Ltd and a very, very friendly chap.

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