Skips in the Construction Industry – A History

Skips in the Construction Industry – A History

14th December 2018

One of our articles last week covered the news that costs in the construction industry have risen as a result of an increase in the price of diesel and higher charges for skip hire.  This led us to look into the history of skips.  We see them everywhere, whether on construction sites where they are used to collect the waste, in driveways of homes where refurbishment work or garden clearance is being carried out and in other places where there is a lot of waste material needing to be removed.

Skips first began to appear as far back as the 1920s when they were used as an integral part of shaft mining.  Ore is blasted at the source, then crushed and transported for loading into mining skips that then move up the shaft to the surface. 

Later on in the 1920s, as large Victorian houses began to be radically remodelled, large parts of house interiors needed to be removed so it made perfect sense to use sturdy skips for this purpose.  This is when skips began to be produced in different sizes, to meet a range of specific requirements. 

When the Second World War ended, interior decorating and DIY became popular as a hobby and householders began to hire skips to make it easier to remove rubble and other discarded items.  This is when skip hire by private individuals began to increase and the skip hire market truly took off as a viable business model.

Fast forward to the 1970s and skip use had become so common that the Highways Act enforced extra regulations governing their use.  One of the rules was that all skips had to be yellow to make them easier to see in the dark.   These days, because signage, markers and lighting is easier to ensure, skips come in a variety of colours, though yellow is still the most common. 

Anybody who’s hired a skip will know that it can turn into a rubbish magnet!  Those who have a driveway should make sure the skip is placed on the drive to deter unwanted additions to the skip.  It’s often the case that neighbours will add a couple of items they want to get rid of in the dead of night if there is a handy skip nearby – it will save them a trip to the local waste amenities site or having to pay somebody to take away the items they no longer want or need.

If you hire a skip, keep an eye out for people adding their rubbish to it, especially when it’s due to be collected, as you may find that somebody has sneaked in some rubbish that shouldn’t be in it. 

Over the years, so many strange things have been found in skips.  Animals will often shelter in a skip and become unable to escape.  Homeless people sometimes sleep in a skip as they try to find shelter from the harsh winter weather – this can be really dangerous. 

Next week we’ll be taking a look at some of the weirdest objects that have been found in skips over the years.  Don’t miss out as it’s sure to make you smile – follow us on Facebook or Twitter so you’ll know when the article is published.