Plumbing, as a profession, has been around for thousands of years. In that time, plumbers have helped engineer massive water movement project that allowed fresh water to flow to cities to help them thrive. Plumbers have developed inventions that significantly improved sanitation and health in those growing cities. Plumbers have even managed to change the way we talk and think about certain things.

In today’s blog, Action Jackson Drain Cleaning and Plumbing in Edmonds — your local 24-hour plumbing company — will take a little time to consider some famous plumbers and the contributions that they have made to the industry and to society as a whole. You may know some of these people, but others may come as a bit of a surprise.


The plumbers below have all made a significant contribution to the way that plumbing was used or thought about, creating lasting effects that still resonate today.

John Harrington

Born in 1560 in England, Sir John Harrington is credited with being the first person to design a flushing toilet, which he installed in his own home, forever changing the course of indoor plumbing. It is widely thought that the nickname that so many Americans fondly call their toilets is based on his first name.

Alexander Cumming

Cumming was an 18th Century Scottish watchmaker and inventor who patented the very first design of a flushing toilet. His idea to add the S-bend to the toilet prevented foul-smelling gases from entering a household, making indoor plumbing forever more palatable.

Thomas Crapper

Thomas Crapper was an English plumber who forever laid his name on the industry when his company was chosen to provide cistern toilets for soldiers in the First World War. Each cistern was labeled with the name of his company — Thomas Crapper & Co. Thus, servicemen took up the habit of saying that they were visiting the crapper, referring to a brand name of the toilets as opposed to their function.

Cultural Icons

The plumbers below are all people of note, having accomplished a kind of social or cultural achievement that has been widely recognized, even if it was not plumbing related.

Harry Patch

Harry Patch was a soldier in the First World War, and very likely would have used one of Thomas Crapper’s cisterns during the war. A plumber by trade until he retired at age 65, Patch is recognized as being the longest surviving WWI combatant from any country. At the time of his death in 2009 at the age of 111, he had lived during three different centuries and was the oldest man in Europe.

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher

You probably know this man as “Joe The Plumber” — a moniker that was given to him during the 2008 U.S. presidential election. While asking then-Senator Barack Obama a question about purchasing a plumbing business, Samuel inadvertently became an icon of the campaign and was invoked widely by both sides as a representation of the American middle class.

Mario & Luigi

Okay — so we know that this is actually two people, and we know that neither of them is real. However, these two video game icons may very well be the most famous plumbers to have ever “lived.” Since the release of the original Super Mario Bros. in 1985 — the second best selling video game in history — Mario and Luigi have shown up in dozens of titles. We love them because just like a real plumber, they were always helping people and showing up to save the day.

Bob Hoskins

Bob Hoskins is a British Actor who has starred in such films as Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Hook (1991), and wait for it — Super Mario Bros. (1993). During tough economic times in England, Hoskins worked a variety of manual labor jobs, including a stint with a plumbing company.

Sir Michael Caine

Widely recognized as one of the greatest actors of all time, Sir Michael Caine has been nominated for at least one Academy Award in every decade since 1960. Before his illustrious acting career took off, he worked a number of jobs including as a plumber’s assistant after returning home from the Korean War.

Ozzy Osbourne

Another famous Brit makes our list in the shape of the frontman of the original lineup of Black Sabbath — Ozzy Osbourne. Although run-ins with the law ultimately forced him out of the role, Ozzy spent time working as a plumber’s assistant after dropping out of school.

Michael Flatley

The Lord of the Dance, as he is widely known, was the son of a plumber. Michael, Sr. brought his son up in an apprenticeship in his plumbing business before Michael, Jr. ultimately chose to pursue his dance career full time.

Work With Action Jackson Drain Cleaning And Plumbing

Our plumbers might not be action movie stars, despite our name, and they might not quite be on the cusp of inventing the toilet 2.0, but we think they’re pretty special. Our dedicated team of plumbing professionals is always here to help solve your pipe and drain problems no matter the time of day or night they arise. Contact us today to get unbeatable services from your local plumbers at Action Jackson Drain Cleaning and Plumbing today.