Weird, wonderful and worrying rubbish found by litter pickers in Walsall

Among the usual suspects of discarded beer cans, pizza boxes and chewing gum, volunteer litter pickers in Walsall come across some shocking items.

Jewellery found on a litter pick in Mill Street, Walsall. PIC: Gurdip Thandi
Jewellery found on a litter pick in Mill Street, Walsall. PIC: Gurdip Thandi

Some things are shocking, some things are disgusting, some are old and some are utterly bizarre. Dedicated volunteer Mike Hawes has pretty much seen it all in his many years of volunteering in his native Aldridge and across Walsall.

The 57-year-old is one of more than 800 registered volunteers working under the umbrella of the constituted group Walsall Wombles.

Supported by Walsall Council and co-ordinators Richard Upton and Beth Deeley, the volunteers are a welcome and much-loved presence in the town.

Volunteer litter picker Mike Hawes, from Aldridge. PIC: Gurdip Thandi

While most days see them collecting your standard rubbish everyday folk leave behind, there are still some discoveries which even leave the Wombles speechless.

And both Mike and Richard have encountered their fair share over the past few years.

Mike once found a bag full of scuba diving gear which was estimated to have been from the mid-1970s.

He has also found an empty bag of scratchings from 1973, 1980s cans with the detachable ring pulls (including some advertising Euro 1988 football tournament) and crisp packets from across the decades.

He was on his way to winning Spice Girls goodies when he discovered Walkers Crisp packets with Posh and Scary on the front. Sadly he needed all five and the expiry date was in 1997.

He said: “This shows litter picking is only done to a certain level. I try to do deep cleaning so very unlikely to find old stuff after that.”

There was a time where finding the odd £5 or £10 note was commonplace while jewellery and fancy curtains are not unusual discoveries on their picks.

Some of the finds have included sex toys such as vibrators and blow up dolls. And in a complete reverse of finding empty drinks cans discarded, unopened bottles of spirits and six packs have been found dumped in bushes or long grass.

Mike installed a bin at a recurring hot spot in Broadmeadow but this attracted some very strange items in amongst the dog poo bags.

These included neatly wrapped up ornaments, teapots, washing up racks, toasters, a Cinderella lamp, a big wooden carved lion and even an an instrument binnacle from a classic 1980s Audi 80.

He said: “This bin attracts the most bizarre fly-tipping. Who does it? Nobody knows. But because it’s full of poo bags, the stench it terrible.”

All littering is against the law but some of the horrors discovered on litter picks cause major concerns for the community.

Both Richard and Mike have discovered various knives, sometimes wrapped up and thrown in bushes which may have been hidden before or after they were used in an offence.

Richard even found a sword hidden in a park next to a children’s play area and a secondary school in Alumwell.

Drugs are also commonplace with packets of white powder, little Kinder eggs full of heroin, jars of gear and soil and paraphernalia used in growing cannabis. The litter pickers ensure they are safely disposed of.

Richard has previously found a tray full of rat babies who were newborn and yet to grow fur but he was subjected to an upsetting find just a few months ago.

He said: “The worst thing I found was while out on a litter pick with public service students from Walsall College.

“I picked up a B&M bag for life up and looked inside. I immediately dropped it as I saw it was a dead dog left on wasteland in a bag. It had maggots all over it and that got to me.”

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News