Why Munroe's just potty about toilets
THE story of how Stoke-on-Trent changed the course of toilet history will be told in a newly-revised book.
Ceramic Toilets tells how Thomas Twyford kick-started the sanitaryware industry in the Potteries in the 19th century, forever changing how the world relieved itself.
Author Munroe Blair, who spent 40 years working in the industry, uses his unrivalled knowledge to give a definitive account of the toilet's history, from its invention in the 16th century right up to the present day.
The first edition of his book, published in 2000, has been out of print, but North Staffordshire Press persuaded Munroe update it.
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The new version was launched at the Gladstone Pottery Museum last night.
Munroe, of The Westlands, said: "In Stoke-on-Trent we should be proud of the fact the sanitaryware industry was founded here, in Bath Street, Hanley, by the Twyford family.
"They turned their domestic pottery business over entirely to sanitaryware pottery, as they could see the way the market was going.
"It was the first industrial production of sanitaryware anywhere in the world.
"Thomas Twyford and his son Thomas William Twyford also developed the one-piece water closet, which was a worldwide first."
Munroe trained in architecture and design, but after starting work at Twyfords went into marketing. He was later recruited by rival Armitage Shanks where he was head of marketing.
After decades of working at the heart of the sanitaryware industry, Munroe was head-hunted by mining firm English China Clays.
But even after retiring, Munroe kept a keen interest in the industry.
Munroe said: "After I retired I did an MA at Staffordshire University on the history of ceramics.
"Our tutor asked us to do presentations to the other students, and for mine I prepared a little booklet about the history of sanitaryware.
"My tutor said I should send it to his publisher, Shire Publications, which I did. They came back to me and said if I could write 5,000 words and provide 100 pictures they would publish a book.
"They printed 5,000 copies and expected to sell those over five years, but in the first six months they'd sold 1,600.
"I've had quiet a lot of feedback from readers in America who said I'd left out the story of sanitaryware over there, and so that is what I've added with this new edition. I also take the history of sanitaryware right up to the present day as well."
Malcolm Henson, managing director of North Staffordshire Press, said he believed the book would once again be successful in North Staffordshire, due to the number of former Twyfords employees living in the area.
Mr Henson said: "The thing that struck me about Munroe was the sheer depth of his knowledge. He was a real captain of industry, and what he doesn't know about the sanitaryware industry is not worth knowing.
"We hope there will be a lot of interest in this book, particularly in North Staffordshire, where many people were employed in the industry."
Ceramic Toilets, priced at £5.95, is available from the Gladstone Museum, the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Newcastle Borough Museum, Webberleys, or North Staffordshire Press.