Neighbourhood Memories: Bin Men

Did you know your local bin man growing up? Did you tip him at Christmas? Were the streets much cleaner back then?

Bin men have been a great part of the community since the late nineteenth century, when the Public Health Act stated that each home must have a moveable bin.

In 1896, London became the first place to introduce a steam-powered vehicle to bring rubbish to a landfill. Now, it is hard to imagine where we would be without them.



Followers of the Spring Chicken Facebook page have been sharing their memories of bin men:

‘It was such a good job (apart from the smell and the early start). The wages were generous, and you always finished early!’

‘We hardly ever had anything in our bin – it was mostly ashes from the fire. There was never any left-over food, as scraps were given to the cat or dog and crusts were thrown out for the birds. We didn’t have supermarkets then, so didn’t have all the plastic packaging either.’

‘My dad worked as a bin man for a while after leaving the army. He loved it and used to bring home all sorts of goodies. My mum insisted he referred to his job as a “refuse disposal operative”.’

Bin men were also known as dust men in the 40s. They would knock on your door, get the bin from the garden and empty it in their lorries. They worked extremely hard, but always had a smile on their face.

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  • My dad was a dustman for the Stepney borough council. He had a large lump on his right shoulder where he lifted the bins. He brought home a kitten which had been abandoned in the rubbish. We named it Dusty

  • always had the bin men our way mum always tipped them at xmas .dirty job i done it for a few weeks after getting made redundant it was hard work but the laughs and jokes we had were brilliant,

  • Yes i remember the Bin Men,always smiling and doing a grand job.Yes at xmas time we used to give them money..The modern dustmen today collect so much more,as everything is wrapped in plastic,or double wrapped by the Supermarkets,i think it was cleaner in those early days,as then you never had plastic bags being blown everywhere by the wind.

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