Six unusual things found in a skip

Skips are an easy, affordable way to dispose of waste from home renovations and garden projects, construction and demolition sites, and house clearances. They enable you to dispose of large amounts of rubbish conveniently, so they’re typically filled with building rubble, broken furniture, plastic, and metal.

However, some skips have been known to contain the unexpected. Join us as we journey into skip history and explore six surprising items discovered in skips over the decades.

1.     Urns containing human ashes

Workers at a Motherwell recycling plant were presented with a scary surprise in 2016 when a house clearance company accidentally placed two urns containing human ashes into a skip.

The urns would have been emptied and crushed if staff hadn’t intervened. Thankfully, staff sorting waste on a conveyor belt noticed stickers stating the names of the deceased and their funeral dates.

The deceased were a married couple called William and Mary Allan Hunter. Their granddaughter was understandably troubled by the incident but grateful to be able to collect the urns from the depot later that day.

2.     Coffins

A Scottish couple remembering loved ones in a cemetery in Clydebank in 2013 were discarding dead flowers when they made the morbid discovery of two coffins in a council skip.

The coffins were dumped in the skip alongside general rubbish with no warning to visitors, which was a terrible shock to the couple who found them.

A local funeral director had placed the coffins in the skip, which were empty. The council immediately removed the coffins from the site and apologised for the distress caused.

3.     Guinea pigs

Council workers in Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire, spotted a guinea pig in a landfill skip in 2011.

How the ginger pet got into the skip is a mystery, but the workers launched an immediate rescue operation. The guinea pig was described as “frightened and a bit wet and soggy”, but someone running a compost workshop on-site offered to take it home. She then tried to trace its owner.

Sadly, this isn’t the only occasion an animal has been found in a skip. Skips hold an appeal to animals, and sometimes, people place them in a skip maliciously. We recommend checking your skip before collection to ensure no animals are hidden within its contents.

4.     Photos of an under-construction Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge is one of London’s most iconic landmarks, and fifty photos of the bridge under construction dating back to 1892 were discovered in a skip in 2006.

The pictures were discovered by the caretaker of a building being converted into flats, who then stored them under his bed for five years.

The images show the bridge’s steel frame before it was covered in stone cladding, which is how most of us recognise the iconic landmark today.

5.     Modern art

In 2022, the entire body of work by George Westren, an op art artist, faced imminent destruction as his portfolio was dumped in a skip.

Fortunately, a vigilant neighbour intervened, rushing to rescue over 100 of Westren’s drawings as removal men began discarding them in Spitalfields, East London.

Within hours, the drawings gained traction on social media, captivating viewers worldwide with Westren’s distinctive technique. Enthusiasts expressed interest in purchasing the late artist’s work, impressed by its uniqueness.

The artist’s neighbour took the initiative to produce prints of the rescued artwork, intending to sell them to raise funds for a small exhibition commemorating Westren’s legacy. However, the Saatchi Gallery contacted him about showcasing the work, and in 2023, Westren’s creations graced the walls of the prestigious Saatchi Gallery in London.

6.     A whole caravan

A waste collector was shocked when he went to collect a skip in Newport in 2015 and found an entire 1.3-tonne caravan perched atop the otherwise empty skip.

The worker assumed his colleagues were playing a practical joke on him, but they weren’t — the man who hired the skip had called ahead to request a list of banned items. When caravans weren’t mentioned, he hired the skip and proceeded with the disposal.

Of course, the skip hire company refused to collect it and agreed with the owner that they’d need to dismantle the caravan. They were also told there would be an additional charge for the tyres.

Skip hire

If you’ve got some less unusual rubbish to dispose of, a skip is indispensable and can help ensure your site remains safe and organised.

At Forge Skip Hire, we offer a unique skip-hire service that includes waste disposal and recycling. Contact us today to secure your cost-effective skip booking.