25 May 2022

Where have you 'bin' all these years?

A bit of a mystery has emerged as to why a litter bin that once belonged to the former Derry City Council ended up in the centre of the town of Battle in the southern English county of East Sussex.

A bit of a mystery has emerged as to why a litter bin that once belonged to the former Derry City Council ended up in the centre of the town of Battle in the southern English county of East Sussex.
The waste bin has apparently been in the centre of the historic town for some years and has always intrigued a local resident who has a very direct and somewhat tragic link to Derry. Mike Anderson contacted the Derry News in recent days after spending some years trying to find out how and why the bin ended up serving its purpose almost 600 miles from its intended original  destination.
The waste bin seemingly had gone largely unnoticed by the vast majority of the local population apart from the eagle-eyed Mike whose father lived in Derry before moving to England in the 1930s.
"I noticed it a couple of years ago. It appears to have been there for quite a while - it's definitely not a recent arrival. Something in the back of my head said 'I recognise that',” said Mike.
The town of Battle grew up around the Benedictine abbey that marks the site of the Battle of Hastings.
That battle in 1066 marked the beginning of the Norman conquest and forever altered the course of English history.
In 1070, Pope Alexander II ordered the Normans to do penance for killing so many people in the course of their conquest. William the Conqueror pledged to build the abbey and its high altar was reputed to be located on the spot on which the English King Harold died after famously being hit in the eye with an arrow.
Now aged 70 and retired from a career as a public service trade union official, Mr Anderson added: "We lived in Reading in the 1960s and the local paper, the Reading Mercury, had a children's page which paid kids ten shillings for poems they sent in. I found this quite a useful source of pocket money and knocked out poems about things I was interested in.
“One of them was about the coal mines of County Durham. Mum came from a village there and another was about Dartmoor which I was fascinated with after reading the Hound of the Baskervilles.
“I also wrote one about the Siege of Derry and while I didn't keep a copy, I can still remember one of the lines of doggerel that I penned which was 'up came the Mountjoy to the bar, it broke from side to side.
"I'd read about the siege in a guide book published by the City Council which had the coat of arms on the cover.
"I was proud at school that my dad came from such an interesting and historic place in Ireland that was quite different from the more mundane places my classmates came from."
Mike's father, George Alexander Anderson, was born in Strabane in 1912 but the family moved to Derry mainly because his father was a professional soldier in the Inniskilling Fusiliers stationed at Ebrington barracks.
The family lived at number three Clooney Terrace in the Waterside just yards from the former British military base.
George Anderson worked as a shop assistant at Edminston's Wholesale Ironmongers and Fancy Goods Merchants which was located at Bank Buildings on Derry's Shipquay Street.
Upon leaving, he received a glowing reference from his employers, but the reason for his departure was steeped in tragedy.
Mike continued: "Dad moved to England in 1936 to be near his family after his brother, William Anderson, was admitted to St Dunstan's near Brighton which was a home for blind ex-servicemen.
"From what I can piece together, because dad was reluctant to talk about it, one day he and William were playing and picked up an unexploded grenade or detonator which went off accidentally..
"My uncle Will was not only blinded but had both hands amputated at the wrists.
“Whilst dad survived,  it never really struck me how traumatised he must have been because his brother suffered such horrendous injuries."
Mike's father passed away in 1966, aged just 54, from a hereditary heart condition after working as a commercial traveller in England for many years.
"Dad was very fond of his brother and devastated about the accident. He didn't talk about things much but I always remember him talking about going to the Brandywell to see Derry City.
"My wife and I came to Derry in the 1980s and were heading to Shipquay Street to see the site of Edminston's shop but there was a bomb and the street was cordoned off.
“We also wanted to go to Clooney Terrace, too, to see the family house, but there was another bomb on the bridge.
“I'd like to come back some day and I probably will," said Mr Anderson.
As for the bin that prompted memories of his father's native city, a spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council conceded that there was no definitive explanation of how it found its way to East Sussex.
However, the head of the Environmental Department at the local authority believes that it may have been a sample bin from a programme that Derry City Council ran back in the early 1990s and whilst not completely sure he would guess that a supplier may have sold it off at a discount price to Battle's local authority, Rother District Council.

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