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OpenLearn Live: 9th November 2015

Updated Monday 9th November 2015

The man who invented the flushing toilet - and it's probably not the one you're thinking of. Then management, hunting, and Cider.

OpenLearn Live brings free learning to the heart of your world, normally adding content during the day. But not today, as this one has been pre-prepared for your enjoyment. You can also follow us on Twitter.

On Friday, we completed a week of dogs with tales to tell, celebrated the t-shirt, and explored whale suicides

See the complete collection of OpenLearn live


Today's posts


BBC Four, toinight, 8pm: The Secret Life Of Books

Tonight's book getting the story-behind-the-story treatment is Cider With Rosie. (Sadly not Stuart Maconie's autobiography of writing for the NME, Cider With Roadies. Maybe for series three.)

Joanna Trollope explores the way Laurie Lee blended elements of his real life, and facets of his imagination to create what became one of the best-loved works of English literature.

Discover more about Cider With Rosie


On iPlayer now: The Hunt

Last night, the second episode of our new natural history series was on BBC One, exploring life, death, and when life becomes lunch in the Arctic. (Obviously, this is assuming there wasn't a massive breaking news story which knocked the programme off the air. But let's assume there wasn't.)

Catch up with series on iPlayer now

Find out how to order your free poster and discover more about the series


Try a free course: The role of the manager

Are you a manager, and would like to be a better one? Are you not managing right now, but reckon you could give it a go? Why not invest a couple of hours in our free course?

You'll explore both some of the theory of management, and watch some managers in action, to pick up some practical tips. In this video, for example, Jan Smits of IHG addresses a recruitment problem at his hotel chain:

Try the Role of the manager course


British Engineering: George Jennings

Tomorrow is the day in 1810 when George Jennings was born. To celebrate his life and achievements, we're dedicating our start-up segment this week to a bunch of British engineers.

Jennings is the man we should thank every time we visit a toilet, having invented the flushing loo, the public toilet and even the phrase "spending a penny".

I know what you're thinking - what about Thomas Crapper, the man who launched a thousand schoolboy giggles and poorly-researched trivia questions? Crapper was still in short pants when Jennings was working, and Crapper's toilets drew heavily on the ideas expounded by Jennings. I imagine Jennings won't be too upset, though, that it's Crapper's name which has passed into language for passing out solids. "Going for a jenn" doesn't have the same ring.

A potlid bearing the stamp of George Jennings Creative commons image Icon Paul Ryan under CC-BY-ND licence under Creative-Commons license This potlid bearing Jenning's patent would originally have surrounded the flush mechanism on one of his toilets

Jennings' uncle had been a plumber, and George was apprenticed to him in Southampton, before moving to London in 1831. He would rise to fame in the toilet business, notably providing public loos for the 1851 Great Exhibition. These "monkey closets" were a new idea; users would - for an entry fee of a penny - got a clean seat, a towel, a comb and shoe shine. These 800,000-odd people were the first to "spend a penny". When the Crystal Palace was being moved from Hyde Park to Sydenham, it had been planned to not bother with the toilets; Jennings kicked up a stink and the cubicles were saved. In a year, they earned over a thousand pounds.

In 1852, Jennings patented his flushing toilet - although it wasn't just the flush which made the sanitaryware better; he rethought the whole way the thing worked.

By 1855, and the Crimean War, his work was so well-respected that Florence Nightingale drafted him in to help solve sanitation problems at Sebastapol.

His mantra of "sanitas sanitarium" was adopted by Disraeli; his business model saw him install public stalls for free, levying a small charge for the provision of attendants.

Jennings died in 1882 after being thrown from his carriage into a dustcart. Initially he had been improving, but he chose to ignore medical advice to rest and died four days later.

Posthumously, his toilet was awarded a Gold Medal at the International Health Exhibition in 1884. In part, the tests for this included flushing large apples down the device - which makes Alan Partridge's dumping of a cake in a chemical toilet seem rather less extreme.

Read: What does a lack of access to sanitation mean?

Read: Building the first London sewers

 

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