The History of the Butler/Farmhouse Sink

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The Butler Sink (also known as the Farmhouse Sink and Apron Sink) has quite an interesting history.

Before the implementation of plumbing systems, if people wanted water they would need to haul buckets from lakes, rivers, streams and wells in to the home to use for their everyday needs like washing dishes, boiling food and cleaning clothes. Not all of these sources of water were close by.

These large kitchen sinks were mainly found in rural homes in and around the 16th century, and were originally designed to provide added comfort for women, who back then would spend many hours at the sink. The ergonomic design eliminates the need to hunch over the counter top, by bringing the sink forward.

Due to their intelligent design, these sinks became quite prevalent, and in the late 17th Century they began to make their way in to the homes of the wealthy as two newly designed Butler Sinks (apron sinks redesigned especially for the butler’s pantry); the Belfast and London. The names for the sinks came from the cities where the sanitation officers approved their usage.

There were two slight, but significant, differences in design between the sinks. The Belfast sink had a large basin, big enough to fit a small child, and was fitted with a Weir overflow that allowed water to drain, as opposed to spilling over the edge. As Belfast (Ireland) had access to many water sources, they were never concerned with over-usage.

The London on the other hand had a smaller basin and no overflow. Due to London (England) being built on clay, in order to find any fresh water, a well would have to be dug very deep in order to get through all the clay. Which is why London had serious problems with water usage and reclamation.

Yet it was in the 19th Century, with its broad apron front, that the French Farmhouse sink began to gain popularity for its strength and utilitarian value.

Little much has changed since its humble beginnings. The Butler Sink is still made from Fireclay, while its design has an old world charm that ads character and a touch of sophistication to any modern kitchen. The practicality behind the design has not been lost over time, nor been replaced for mere cosmetics.

Given the trend of people spending more time in the kitchen focused on meal preparation (when time allows), thanks to reality TV cooking shows, having a kitchen sink that is ergonomically designed means washing up doesn’t have to determine what you cook based on the amount of dishes you will need to use.

If you have a client that is after an element for their kitchen that will enhance its appearance, while having an enviable practical application, look no further than Turner Hastings range of Butler Sinks.

For further information, please feel free to contact us on (02) 4648 3200, or you can fill out or online enquiry form here, and we will be in contact with you as soon as possible.