The Toothbrush - Great result from a spell in jail
The toothbrush we are all familiar with today was invented sometime between 1770 and 1780 by William Addis. The idea came to him whilst in jail for causing a riot in Spitalfields.
Observing the use of a broom to sweep the floor, he decided that the usual method used to clean teeth at the time – rubbing them with a cloth covered in crushed shell or soot – was ineffective and could be improved. He made a small brush using bone and bristles.
After his release, Addis started a business to manufacture the toothbrushes he had built, and became very rich. He died in 1808, leaving the business to his eldest son, also called William.
At the end of the Second World War, the company Addis, located in Hertford, started making other brushes and the colourful “Housewares” range was introduced, which included washing-up brushes, bowls and buckets. The demand was so high that by the 1960’s they had to buy an additional factory in Swansea.
Under the name Wisdom Toothbrushes, the company now manufactures 70 million toothbrushes per year in the UK.
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