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Who Knows What Hides in Skips?

We’ve all found strange and useful things that have been thrown into commercial or domestic roadside skips; from bikes to speakers; building materials to furniture. Often, skips can be a useful way of offloading your unwanted items while offering them to others who may have a use for them – a bit like an analogue Freecycle – with the “one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure” maxim ringing true. Some even practice a certain “skip etiquette”, politely asking the owner if they are able to take items that have been placed within it, and in certain cases being charged to do so!

Every now and then, however, a passer-by will happen on something weird and wonderful poking over the edge of a skip, as was the case for one particular Essex skip hire firm who discovered over 14,000 Dr Who books in one of their containers after reclaiming it from a customer. Not wanting to process the books with the rest of the skip’s waste, they put the whole lot on eBay, where Gloucester resident David Dovey snapped them up 35 bids later for £656. Dovey, a lifelong fan of the sci-fi series, has decided to combine his love of the Time Lord with his career in education, and has donated the books to schools in an effort to inspire children to take up reading.

The 36 different titles, around 800 unopened copies of each wrapped in bundles of 100, are just one of hundreds of amazing finds in skips over the years. From guinea pigs (Oxfordshire, 2011) to Cliff Richard Memorabilia (Swindon, 2011), people have thrown out some strange things. A bit of “dumpster diving” in Miami a couple of years ago served up 16 live racing pigeons, while up the coast in Long Island, a collection of American 1940s war posters worth over £4,000 was discovered in 2010!

Although not strictly a find, a Caversham skip hire firm were confused when turning up to collect a container after use, only to find it empty. As it turned out, the customer was something of a pro skateboarder, and found the large domestic skip to be an ideal mini urban skate park.

On a related theme, in 2009 professional surfer Dane Reynolds grabbed a piece of polyester foam out of a skip behind the Channel Islands Surfboard factory off the coast of LA, and fashioned it into a crude surfboard that was described as “short, fat and ugly” at the time. Reynolds was confident in the dimensions of the new design, nicknamed the “dumpster diver”, and the shape soon caught on in surfing circles for use in areas with smaller waves.

So next time you walk past a skip on the side of the road, why not have a glance at the contents – who knows what you might find!


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