Posted on May 19, 2011 by


Unlike nowadays where a thermostatic shower is considered the norm rather than a luxury it was not common for a house that was built prior to 1920 to have a shower installed. At the time this would have been quite a hefty additional expense. Indoor plumbing was still somewhat of a luxury for many sectors of our society.Even where indoor plumbing was common, such as the big cities, showers were used primarily by men, and not women. Hard to believe though it is the streams of water were widely felt to be harmful to women. A woman was definitely the weaker sex in Victorian and Edwardian Britain. If a woman did want to shower it was recommended she take the advice of her physician.

So, well up until the 1930s, most women would not consider showering. What need was there for a shower fixture in the home? Bathing was done in the bathtub. But showers were used in the home for medicinal or therapeutic purposes. Shower sprays were believed to stimulate the action of the skin, and make some people healthier. Even today many modern advertisements for showers or showering products promote the invigorating feelings produced by having a shower. Power showers are a must and a luxury shower with additional jets is even better.

But, there were some people who specified showers be installed in their pre-1920 homes, and those people tended to be wealthy. Very Wealthy. The showers that had the most therapeutic value were the ones that had multiple sprays that would apply jets of water to specific parts of the body. These showers were called needle showers, since the fine jets of spray would strike the kidney area, ribcage, liver or spine like fine needles. These elaborate showers were very expensive, commonly costing from 10 to 15 times more than installing a very good standard complete bathroom. So in todays standards if you spent a relatively modest £5000 kiting out your new bathroom your needle shower would cost you a staggering £50,000 minimum. And you can buy reproductions today ranging in price from £9000 to £20,000. Perhaps not quite as expensive in comparison but certainly a luxury item.

This might help explain the rarity of antique showers today, especially the ribcage or needle showers. They were mainly only found in a very few affluent homes. And owners of such homes also were more likely to upgrade and modernize their homes on a fairly regular basis. Brass has always been a highly sought after commodity, so these showers did not tend to hang around once removed from their original installation. They were scrapped out for brass, and lost forever. Such a shame. So finding an original is rare indeed.

Today there are a few company’s that reproduce Needle showers and they are still sought after luxury items.