Alexander Cumming

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Alexander Cumming
Alexander Cumming Clockmaker.jpg
Born 1731/2
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died 8 March 1814 (aged 82)
Pentonville, England
Known for Design of the flush toilet

Alexander Cumming (often referred to as Cummings, 1731/2 – 8 March 1814) was a Scottish watchmaker who was the first to patent a design of the flush toilet. This S-shaped plumbing design, survives in today's plumbing modified as a U- or J-shaped pipe trap located below or within a plumbing fixture. The S-shaped trap (or bend) was invented by Alexander Cumming in 1775 to prevent sewer gases from entering buildings. His premises were in Bond Street, London.[1]

Born in Edinburgh in 1733, Cumming was a mathematician and mechanic as well as a watchmaker. He wrote books about watch and clock work, about the effect on roads of carriage wheels with rims of various shapes, and on the influence of gravity. He became a magistrate in 1779 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1783.[2][3]


  1. ^ The Development of the Flushing Toilet – Detailed Chronology 1596 onwards, Twyfords Bathrooms, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
  2. ^ Cumming, Alexander (1731/2-1814). Royal Society
  3. ^ Gloria Clifton (2004), "Cumming, Alexander (1731/2–1814)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press