One Man’s Trash: Valuable Items Found in Skips
Cautious behaviours are being actioned in the aim to reduce the impacts of climate change and towards a greener world. Old is the new, well, new! Although many of us are supporting charity shops and rejecting the old stigma of wearing second-hand clothes or buying used furnishings, others would still turn their noses up at the idea of digging through someone else’s unwanted belongings.
But the US trend of ‘dumpster diving’ is being gradually established in the UK, thanks to the growing eco-consciousness around the world. From stunning success stories of people finding perfectly good make-up products in shop dumpsters to ‘freegans’ who make their meals without spending a penny by scouring bins, the idea that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure certainly holds water. Here, we explore some of the most valuable items found in skips.
127-year-old photos of the London Tower Bridge in construction are a popular example of a gem found among trash. The sepia photographs show a number of stages throughout the bridge’s eight-year construction.
The pictures were taken from a skip outside of a Westminster office, which was being re-built as a block of apartments. The photos were buried among other documents from the building and were rescued by the building’s caretaker. The documents reportedly contained fascinating information about the Tower Bridge, including the raw materials used in its creation.
The meaning of the photographs only came to light five years later, and after a museum owner rejected them claiming to be in possession of “plenty of photos”. The images were brought to the attention of a City of Westminster tour guide, who proceeded to try and find the same photos within books and publications. The result of his research? The shocking realisation that these photographs were utterly unique and had been unseen for over a hundred years.
One would normally expect to find master tapes for a winning debut album from a former band member’s private collection. And, according to one of Joy Division’s founding members, Peter Hook, that’s exactly where this next find ought to be.
Julia Adamson discovered master tapes for Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division’s popular debut album. She posted a photograph of the staggering find after finding the tapes in a skip. After it was noted that the Joy Division tapes were the only master reel tapes in existence, things quickly spiralled out of hand when the Joy Division Estate and Warner Records 90 Limited took legal action against Adamson. Part of Adamson’s defence statement outlined the nature of her find:
“When Strawberry Studios closed down the staff were busy clearing out the building. There were at least 20,000 copy masters from various bands and the artistes or their agents. They were contacted as to whether they wished to buy the tapes from the Strawberry library because they were clearing out. Mostly the artistes already had their own copies and said Strawberry should dispose of them. Some asked for the copy masters and these were handed over. The remaining copy masters were consigned to the skips. A colleague David Drennan was assigned the task of contacting as many of the clients as possible about their tapes. In the case of Factory Records, David Drennan remembers that they only asked for The Happy Mondays tapes and did not want any others. Later I discovered that Factory Records had parted company with Joy Division/New Order.
“I felt that the tapes of Martin Hannett’s work i.e. the ones he produced should not be destroyed. That is why I removed them from the skip and rescued them from landfill. When Warners [sic] were threatening court action I contacted Nick Turnbull who had been the owner of Strawberry Studios and who closed it down. I told him I had the tapes and how I had acquired them. He said he was glad that I had rescued them “doing everybody a favour” Nick Turnbull said as far as he was concerned there was no wrongdoing.”
Following the defeat in court, Adamson was given a gagging order, which meant she wasn’t allowed to talk about the issue unless necessary.
In February 2018, a skip worker found a black bin bag filled with £20 notes during a regular day at work. The cash sum came to a whopping £7,000, and it was simply sitting in a skip.
The skip worker, Kevin Ball, admirably handed the damaged notes to Lancashire Police. Though appeals have been made for the cash, no one with enough evidence of ownership has been found. The money was returned to the skip hire company as a result. It remains to be seen whether the finders got a share of the cash in the end!
Ensuring that you put the correct waste into the appropriate type of skip is a matter that experts like skip hire Birmingham would define as a ‘must’. But making sure you’re not throwing something priceless into the skip is vital!