Saturday 1 October 2011


Nothing is too ephemeral or too esoteric to be featured in 'A Middlewich Diary' and today we once again turn our attention to the subject of dustbins and, in particular, the introduction of that symbol of modern refuse disposal, the wheely-bin (or, if you're the Congleton Borough Council, 'wheeled bin refuse collection system').
Here's what I had to say in the MHS Newsletter of November 1993 about the new bins and the leaflet which
the council sent out a year earlier:
'This leaflet is a minor piece if social history. It signals, in those four simple words: NEW REFUSE COLLECTION SCHEME nothing less than the end of an era; the era of the old-fashioned dustman, as immortalised in 'My Fair Lady' and Lonnie Donegan in his witty ditty about his 'old man'.
At one time it was possible to illustrate both ends of the social scale by use of the vivid phrase, 'Dukes and dustmen'.
Middlewich's dustmen were pretty much the same as any others. They rode around in a large, green dustcart emblazoned with the words MIDDLEWICH URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL (F. Costello, Public Health Inspector, Victoria Building, Lewin Street, Middlewich). In latter years, during the trendy seventies, the green livery was replaced by blue and orange (or, if you will, tangerine and delft blue) and the bin men, with no thought for civic dignity, christened the dustcart  'The Orange Wonder'.
During my time with the MUDC I had quite a few contacts with the dustmen of Middlewich, even, on one memorable occasion, going amongst them to distribute their wage packets to the accompaniment of many good-natured threats as to what they would do to me if the money in the envelopes was wrong,
I also sold galvanised metal dustbins to the general public at only £2 each.
'Wheely bin Day' also saw the end of the dreaded black plastic bin bag. Now that's what I call progress'
(Extract © Dave Roberts/Salt Town Productions 2011)

Photo ©  Salt Town Productions 2011
And of course the grey (or silver if you have the romantic imagination of a Cheshire East Council official) bins for recyclable waste were delivered in April 2011* (April 13th in Whitley Close, to be absolutely precise) replacing the flimsy,  impractical and hated red and blue boxes.
Now the brown bins, for garden waste.......but, enough. Let's just leave it there, shall we?


* Oddly, though, The Middlewich Diary's 'silver 'bin has 13th April 2010 on it, giving us a discrepancy of precisely one year. There's something for future historians to ponder.

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