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Posted by Ron HMS on September 27, 2009 at 18:19

I understand the meaning of the phrase Tow-rag, to come from the pad of teased out old rope that Royal Navy sailors of the 18th/19th century used to use when they visited 'the head'(toilet on the bow of the ship). Paper was far too expensive to use, so old rope, known as tow, was used and was then washed out and kept in one's pocket until needed again. Hence the derisory term to call someone a tow-rag.