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The Origins of the Skip

24 January 2017

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

It’s a question that’s long puzzled mankind, much like ‘what came first, the chicken or the egg?’.

An everyday sight on the busy roads and driveways of the United Kingdom. Something so commonplace we barely notice them, and yet without them, what would we do? From garage clear-outs to major DIY projects. Hiring a skip is something we all need to do at some point. So, the question is. Who invented the skip in the first place?

A Bit of Trivia

The origins of the word ‘skip’ come from the word ‘skep’, the word ‘skep’ itself is derived from the Old Norse word ‘skeppa’ which meant ‘basket’. Skep’s were used in old England as hives for honeybees but as modern farming techniques took hold they fell into obscurity.

The word ‘skep’ made a comeback in the Lancashire cotton mills of the Industrial Revolution. The workers used it to refer to the huge wheeled baskets that carried their woven cotton. Skeps were also used in the coal mining industry, although now made of wood and steel they started to be referred to as ‘skips’.

So, how did the actual modern day skip come about? Although the now recognizable shape was designed in Germany in the 1960’s. Actual skips began their lives more locally, in Southport in the 1920’s. These horse-drawn skips solved the problem of how to get waste from the streets of Southport to the local dump. However, over time the logistics involved and greater distances that needed covering became problematic.

Skip hire as we now know it, was developed in the US. The skip or ‘dumpster’ as it’s called by our American friends could be easily moved around due to the addition of hydraulic arms (on wagons of course, not horses!).

While the origins of the skip can be traced across various continents, the local aspect is something that is of interest at local firm: J Dickinson and Sons Ltd. A fourth generation family business, the company’s beginnings were humble, with horse drawn carts, eventually building up to the modern day skips you now see on the roads of Bolton and its surrounding areas.

For more information about the history of J Dickinson and Sons Ltd visit their website or for skip hire Bolton contact their dedicated team on 01204 696446.

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