A Short History of ‘Skipping’

Here we look at a history of skipping and no, we’re not talking about jumping ropes and hopscotch but the big, metal containers we are so used to seeing on the streets of Britain. When did these incredibly useful waste bins first make an appearance, who invented them and where were they first used? Now, these questions probably don’t keep you awake at night but it’s great to store this kind of info for future pub quizzes!

The skip industry has its origins in Germany and they were first seen in London during the sixties, imported by a company called George Cross and Co. Household waste removal was becoming an issue, with bigger amounts and larger items than previously seen just sitting on pavements for days before being removed. This was a result of the rising amount of affordable mass-produced consumer products. This would often cause unnecessary hazards and of course, looked unsightly too.

Whilst the details surrounding the exact moment the skip idea was born are shrouded in mystery, soon that very idea was transforming waste removal like never before. The idea was simple yet beautiful – why not load all the rubbish into a single container and when full, load the skip onto a truck and take it away? For your own waste disposal needs, try Swansea Skip Hire at http://pendragoncarmarthenshire.co.uk/

There is a theory that the first skips were actually seen in the United States. A pioneer in waste management, George Dempster set up a company with his brother in 1930s Tennessee. He invented a truck that was able to load and transport waste and it became known as the ‘Dempster Dumpster’. When George was a young man, he operated equipment during the construction of the Panama Canal and had previously worked in the locomotive industry, so he clearly knew a lot about transportation and construction issues.

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The thing he invented and patented was an item of equipment that could lift containers onto trucks thus saving a lot of manpower. It looked very similar to how skips look and function today, with a hydraulic hoist. It was incredibly successful and the method took hold. Around the same time, in the same area, the Brooks brothers improved on the design by using two hydraulic lifting arms that were mounted to the truck and had ‘feet’ allowing it to remain steady and lift even heavier loads.

Most early containers were a standard size but nowadays skips come in all sizes. Small skips that will fit on a domestic driveway, right up to huge roll-ons used in the building industry. The first skips were prohibitively expensive so only the wealthy could clear out their clutter in this convenient way.

Skips can come in any colour nowadays but most are painted bright yellow. The reason for this is that yellow is a danger colour and warns people that there might be construction going on, heavy items being lifted and also so it can be seen clearly on a site, even in bad weather.

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