In late Victorian Sheffield taking a bath was anything but relaxing. In 1883, Charles Bingham appeared in the High Court to dispute the extra charge for his bath water. Rather than pay the amount estimated by the Sheffield water company, Bingham, an electroplate manufacturer, had adopted an unusual method of measurement. Around the sides of his tub, he had painted a waterline to mark the point where the bath held exactly thirty-two gallons. Opposite the tub hung a calendar. He told his family and servants never to fill the bath above the line, and to mark each use on the calendar. Added up, the numbers would show how much water had ‘actually been used’ over the year. Bath water was charged at 1s. ½d. per thousand gallons. This was in addition to the water supplied for ‘domestic purposes’, such as cooking, subject...

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