Last week we brought you some information on one of the most common items in the building trade – the humble skip. We outlined the history of skips and why they are usually yellow. We also promised that this week we’d take a light-hearted look at some of the weirdest things people have found in skips over the years, so here we go.
Now most of us are guilty of having a quick peep inside when we pass a skip – after all, one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure and people often throw away or discard some perfectly good stuff. For want of a better term, most people call it “skip-diving” – whether you’ve found an electrical item in perfect working order, some timber that you could put to good use or garden pots that would look great on your patio – if you’ve found it in a skip, you’ve got yourself a freebie.
Everybody loves a freebie – I’m guilty to once (in my student days) carrying home a fab wicker chair that I found in a skip. It had a pattern woven into it with a different colour of wicker and looked absolutely great until the dog ate it (but that’s a different story). When it comes to strange stuff found in skips, though, nothing can top the coffin found in a skip in Norwich in 2007! Police were called by worried residents and the coffin was duly opened and discovered to be empty – who left it there and why will always remain a mystery.
Whilst a skip is often considered necessary to get rid of large waste items that don’t fit in the bins, one householder took wishful thinking to the extreme in 2015 and hired a skip to get rid of a caravan. The caravan was dumped on top of the skip (naturally it did not fit IN the skip. In fairness to the householder, he had asked the skip hire company for a list of banned items and the list did not include caravans. As you’d expect, the skip could not be taken away with a caravan balanced precariously on top of it so the customer was advised to break it up before the skip could be collected and the unwanted caravan taken away.
Two skip drivers got the shock of their lives when they discovered a World War Two naval artillery shell in a skip in Cornwall in 2006. The Royal Navy’s bomb disposal squad rushed to the rescue and determined that the shell was still “live” – and right next to a petrol station! A controlled explosion was carried out in a nearby quarry and the panic was over.
One site manager came across two old film canisters in a skip and rescued them, only to discover that they were both Peter Sellers films that were thought to have been lost forever. “Dearth of a Salesman” and “Insomnia is Good for You”, both made in 1957 were digitally restored and shown at the Southend Film Festival in 2014.
A Newcastle man visiting New York found a load of old posters in a skip, took them home and stashed them in his attic for years. Several years later, he discovered that they were worth more than £4,000 each – a treasure indeed.