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My 'totting' trips

View towards Hillview Road. Sheepcote Valley viewed from the top terrace of the rubbish-filled valley. The white fences along the hill crest are those of Brighton racecourse: 2010
©Robin Webster: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

Sunday morning trips

From about 1965 I lived in Whitehawk in number 44 which was on the eighth floor of Swanborough Place. Every Sunday morning I would go to the tip to get scrap metal from all sorts of stuff that had been dumped there such as washing machines, cars etc. I used to concentrate on getting copper and brass which I would sell at the scrap yard.  I was always in possession of my magnet so that I could determine what was real copper/brass.  Another source of copper of course was cable which I used to burn to remove the insulation. 

Oh What a Lovely War

The tip was, or appeared to be, completely unregulated or managed in any way. I also used to collect the car badges from car steering wheels and there was always a car roof or two which had been cut off of a car which I used to ‘sail’ in the huge puddles that used to form after heavy rain. Lots of people, mainly men, used to be over the tip in those days and the activity was known as ‘totting’.  I also remember going over to the tip when the film Oh What a Lovely War was being filmed and seeing the trenches and soldiers in uniform walking around. 

Lost my treasured possession

Another thing I do remember was the rats!  I loved ‘totting’ on a Sunday morning and even used to look forward to it, but I do not remember seeing other children doing the same as me.  My uncle Hughie gave me a pen knife with a picture of a galleon on the side for stripping cables; the first day I took it to the tip I lost it, I was so upset.  I spent so much time looking for it and was consequently so late home he came looking for me. I did not want to leave until I found that pen knife, which unfortunately I never did. I am sure the tip is the archaeological dig of the future! 

Comments about this page

  • I remember collecting car badges from the dumped cars in the 1960s, I also remember 4 or 5 of us pushing the old cars up the hills and all riding down over as many bumps and ridges as we could, it was great fun. I used to float around with my friends on upturned car roofs in the large puddles sitting on an old crate or bucket, we used to try and ram each other; the best roof was a Morris Minor split screen roof, it was high sided and almost unsinkable, it had a pointed bow where the centre window bar was too. Those were great times, I spent my school holidays split between Black Rock Pool, the beach and Sheepcote Tip.

    By Michael Brittain (22/04/2016)

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