The Pink Sack Idea is not All That New: We called it "Salvage".

By John Bathurst

The news that Basildon Council are going to increase the collection of the pink-sacks containing recyclable material will for many of the Laindon community be welcomed. But “recycling” is not a particularly new idea. In the period from 1939 to 1945 the call was for “salvage”, the recovery of material that could be utilized in the manufacture of weapons of war. In order to do so, in a period when the availability of the kind of things that answered that call was already severely restricted, it required a considerable amount of effort, not least in the actual arrangements for collection.

Laindon, Langdon Hills, Lee Chapel and Dunton seldom saw anything remotely resembling a vehicle we now call a “dust cart”, a name that derives from the time when persons called “dustmen” called at houses in well organised towns and cities to remove the accumulated ashes from coal burning stoves and fireplaces, the sole means of heating or cooking. Laindon and District not only did not have that particular service - mostly because it was not required. There was always a local use for the residue from the fire: ash if it was fine enough was used to lighten the predominant clay by spreading on the vegetable or flower patch and if it was too coarse for that job it went on the rudimentary paths that aided dry shod progress along unmade roads.

It was the unmade up roads of the area that ruled out the collection of general rubbish. To get round this, the Billericay Urban District had placed large metal bins with hinged lids at strategic points in which material that could not be disposed of by burning was deposited. These were emptied at fairly long intervals by means of the use of a shovel through a bottom hatch, a not particularly pleasant task. This was because some people disregarded instructions not to place compostable material in the bins and by doing so, inevitably attracted un-desirable vermin. In hot weather, the area near or surrounding the bins was not conducive with lingering in the vicinity!

When the shout went up for the collection of “salvage” during the period of war, special arrangements ware introduced. In the “Laindon Recorder” of the 6th August 1941 for example, the announcement was made that a number of salvage “dumps” would be cleared by a Council lorry during the following ten days. Citizens (or "residents" as the Council called them) were urged to help the Essex salvage “drive” by placing paper and scrap metal on the dumps before the collections were made.

The message continued by saying that “queries from the Langdon Hills district should be addressed to the WVS c/o Mrs. Seaman, at “Dunholme” High Road, Langdon Hills, and for the Laindon district to the WVS c/o Mrs. Smith at 5, Police Houses, Laindon.”

The article indicated that the dumps would be established for Langdon Hills at (for paper) a shed opposite the iron “drop” at the corner of Lee Chapel Lane and High Road, or at the garage at “Dunholme” in the High Road, also at an empty garage at “St Ives” in Berry Lane, together with another at the Laindon First Aid Post in the High Road. The dumps for iron were established at the aforesaid Lee Chapel junction, at the Church Institute in Berry Lane  and at the Post Office at the junction of Beatrice Road with Berry Lane.

In Laindon, the sole dump for paper was established at the First Aid Post near the railway crossing (that in Northumberland Avenue) while there were several location where iron could be dumped including the First Aid Post at the Northumberland Road crossing, Markham’s Dairy in the High Road at the Victoria Road junction, in St Nicholas Lane, at the British Legion Hall in High Road, at the Arterial Road end of Queens Road, at the home of Mrs. Hawser  at “Bretby” on the Southend Road, and at the Wash Road end of “School Road” (presumably “Church Road” was meant).

The call for “salvage” went on for the duration of the war and as the use of paper, in particular, got less and less so, eventually, Newspapers were reduced to a single four page sheet and it was virtually impossible to buy certain commodities unless one’s own wrapping was provided. Boy Scouts went round the district collecting paper from door to door and I recall an old Walls Ice cream tricycle being painted green and being pressed into service by having its “innards” removed to accommodate the baled paper as it was collected. Full, this large box became impossible to ride (too heavy) and very near impossible for three of to push!

This page was added by John Bathurst on 09/06/2011.