UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Discussion Forum

UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Discussion Forum (
-   Where To Get Sets and Parts (
-   -   Scrapyards to visit? (

greenstar 22nd Jan 2020 6:49 pm

Scrapyards to visit?
I am not sure if this post is a waste of space, but it may be worth a shot. Question, are the sort of scrapyards you can walk around and buy stuff from completely extinct?
I mean, not car scrapyards but the places where everything metallic goes, from railway carriages to fork lift trucks to transformers, dentist chairs to metal shelving, and also the wonderful non ferrous places where I often found test gear. Higher environmental protection standards and better H&S of course have closed many, but I don't see why this should always occur.
As a teenager in the late 60's, I frequented Frank Berry's yard in Leicester, and Piggots near the Great Central line, both a fabulous source of vintage electrical junk, plus bits of metal, brass, copper etc to repurpose.
Later on, I lived near Wigan until 1997, when there was still a place behind the railway station where I remember finding a blacksmith's vice, now in my workshop, and in Lancaster a yard that had redundant computer systems.
If such places exist anywhere in the country, it may be worth listing them as places worth a detour while travelling.

G6Tanuki 22nd Jan 2020 7:18 pm

Re: Scrapyards to visit
Tightening-up of scrap-metal regulations, WEEE, H&S, and public-liability insurance-costs have all-but finished-off the days of scrapyards where you could wander around trying to find 'stuff' while also trying to avoid the attentions of the mangy-but-militant Alsatians such places always had.

The last such places I remember were Passeys in Benson (closed 20+ years ago, site now a housing development) and Haynes at Challow.

Both these occasionally had electronics/lab-equipment-type scrap (stainless-steel sinks, fume-cupboards, vacuum-glassware) because they were relatively close to Rutherford Appleton Labs, Harwell, and JET at Culham.

Haynes still exists - I went there a while back for some "architectural salvage" roof-slates and bricks. Also paid 50p for a porcelain 'egg' insulator that was attached to one of the salvage-windowframes! Don't know if they still do 'scrap' in the wider sense though.

paulsherwin 22nd Jan 2020 7:27 pm

Re: Scrapyards to visit
Yes, such businesses are very reluctant to deal with the general public at all now - the various liability and waste handling rules make it not worthwhile. Even vehicle dismantlers have had to set up full retail operations if they want to sell to the public, with most becoming trade only.

high_vacuum_house 22nd Jan 2020 8:11 pm

Re: Scrapyards to visit
Good afternoon,
I still think you can go and wander around CF Booth scrapyard at Rotherham though only on a Saturday morning. I used to go up there regularly with a couple of chaps from the Gloucestershire Warwickshire railway when the older locomotives were taken there for scrapping. We would be allowed to remove engine and electrical components from the locomotives for our own loco restorations. You obviously would need to have a hard hat and high visibility vest on whilst on site and later on needed to produce a document to state that you understand the risks involved with being in the scrapyard and if you hurt yourself, then it is your fault!! It was entirely up to you to look out for vehicles, unsteady piles hot sharp things ECT.

I used to see all manner of interesting things I would have liked to take home including big china insulators form the national grid, aincient Brush and Ferranti transformers and switchgear, lathes and other toolroom machines. I once found a huge box of brand new and very expensive hose cutting tools dumped in an old tote bin for scrapping. There were also a lot of very nice stainless steel workbenches, probably pulled from a catering establishment.
Old control panels from factories were also a good find there as there was usually a good assortment of contactors, relays, terminals, switches, indicators ECT

Christopher Capener

electronicskip 22nd Jan 2020 8:18 pm

Re: Scrapyards to visit
I used to visit Smiths Scrapyard in Bloxham back in the 70s/80s mainly for carparts, but also used to deal with old computer systems which they used to extract precious metals from even back then.
Spent many an afternoon rooting through the computer bits buying stuff for projects.
I think the scrapyard is still there to this day.

greenstar 22nd Jan 2020 8:24 pm

Re: Scrapyards to visit
This is hopeful ... I remember watching Scrapyard Challenge and wondering if the general public would have the same access. There is something about the randomness of what may turn up - true foraging! It's the irrepressible hunter gatherer instinct.

paulsherwin 22nd Jan 2020 8:47 pm

Re: Scrapyards to visit
Scrapyard Challenge wasn't done in a real working scrapyard though. It was basically a set. There's an awful lot of kiddums in most 'unscripted' TV production.

greenstar 22nd Jan 2020 9:32 pm

Re: Scrapyards to visit
Oh Dear! Paul, I was certainly taken in there. I guess the prog wouldn't have gone so well if they started by saying this would not be possible in reality ... although it was a few years ago. The last 20 years seems so short it might be a year ago. Must be an ageing thing.

Reelman 22nd Jan 2020 9:48 pm

Re: Scrapyards to visit?
Well, C F Booth is certainly still in existence but I don’t know their policy on selling to the public. Would be an interesting place to visit as it is huge and usually has a good selection of locomotives/carriages.


OldTechFan96 22nd Jan 2020 9:52 pm

Re: Scrapyards to visit?
Sounds like a dream! I've never known anything like it in my lifetime. Nothing like that exists near me. I have heard of American Youtubers being able to pick through things in rubbish tips.

In 2011 our local tip had a complete and boxed Apple IIgs in the electronics bin. I offered the boss money for it but it was destined for the shredder. A great shame.

Some tips apparently have onsite shops where they sell things.

high_vacuum_house 22nd Jan 2020 9:55 pm

Re: Scrapyards to visit?
I believe they will sell items to the public though I expect that it has to be arranged beforehand. I know they allow photographers in on a Saturday morning to photograph locomotives and carriages. We were allowed to buy some thick copper plate to make a replacement bus bar that had been damaged in the past. It is sold by its weight.

Christopher Capener

paulsherwin 22nd Jan 2020 10:15 pm

Re: Scrapyards to visit

Originally Posted by greenstar (Post 1210275)
Oh Dear! Paul, I was certainly taken in there. I guess the prog wouldn't have gone so well if they started by saying this would not be possible in reality ... although it was a few years ago. The last 20 years seems so short it might be a year ago. Must be an ageing thing.

Programmes like Scrapyard Challenge are just entertainment. You only have to think for a second about the practicalities of shooting such a show safely in a typical real working scrapyard to imagine some of the problems. There's also the strange coincidence that appropriate items always seemed to be available for each week's challenge :-) Nothing wrong with a bit of make believe, that's showbusiness.

Radio Wrangler 22nd Jan 2020 11:11 pm

Re: Scrapyards to visit

Originally Posted by paulsherwin (Post 1210292)
There's also the strange coincidence that appropriate items always seemed to be available for each week's challenge

Having spent plenty of time in scrap yards back in the day, I was always surprised at just what they found in that scrap yard, and oddly their engines always turned out to be runners! You can smell a put up job a mile off.

However, the probllem is simply moved back one level of abstraction.... someone in the programme production company had to know a yard where they could buy the bits to seed their fake scrap yard with.

I can't bear to watch those heavily faked storage unit shows....yuk!


McMurdo 23rd Jan 2020 12:15 am

Re: Scrapyards to visit?
I was allowed to wander around scrap yards as a boy, no problems in the 70's. Scrambling around in lorry cabs after dashboard lights, ripping old tills open for the key switches, finding a set of post office relays in an old filing cabinet, that sort of thing. Nowadays I can't even do that if I'm summoned there to fix a machine; there are designated walk-routes, hart hats, boots and high vis, on-site safety course to attend, no fun at all.

paulsherwin 23rd Jan 2020 12:26 am

Re: Scrapyards to visit?
There used to be a big scrapyard called McGuinnesses in Longport in Stoke which I used to frequent from my late teens onward. I kept a lot of old cars on the road with parts from there in the 70s, 80s and 90s. It was completely unsupervised, and people were free to wander around scavenging parts with their own tools wearing whatever they liked. By the turn of the century there was a bit more supervision but it was still pretty relaxed. It eventually closed about a decade ago when McGuinness family members fell out and started suing each other.

FIXITNOW 23rd Jan 2020 8:36 am

Re: Scrapyards to visit?
Got a friend that still runs a yard does a bit off scrap and factory clearance
so as we clear out at work instead off getting him to collect I always drop it off to him .so we can chat and I can look round his yard .but as he is just coming up to 80 he does not do much now . but over the years I have had some useful bits

M0FYA Andy 23rd Jan 2020 10:28 am

Re: Scrapyards to visit?
The 'Scrapyard Challenge' which made me laugh was the one where they needed a boiler to run a steam engine. Strangely under a pile of junk they found one, fully 'ticketed' and certified to operate at 150psi or whatever!


Welsh Anorak 23rd Jan 2020 11:10 am

Re: Scrapyards to visit?
There used to be one near my home when I was young. If you wanted anyhting of a mechanical or elecrical nature, they'd have it - some BSF threaded bar, brass fittings, half horse motors? No problem. The covered area was a real Aladdin's cave, and the (slightly eccentric) workers would know EXACTLY where to find a 3BA left hand thread nut, though probably hadn't been asked for twenty years.
My father was a friend of the very elderly owner, complete with his WW1 wooden leg and Humber Super Snipe, and they used to have spirited arguments about whether it was a scrapyard (my Dad) or an engineer's emporium (him). I suppose they were both right!

greenstar 23rd Jan 2020 2:07 pm

Re: Scrapyards to visit?
I frequented the yards in Leicester, in the late 60's. I went to Gateway Boy's, now part of the De Montfort University. No girls there, but a consolation was Frank Berry's scrap yard nearby. I would go over in my lunch hour, school uniform and brief case, and fill it up with bits. They had a lot of old TV's and industrial electrical gear. I'd sneak back in with oily hands - I was never rumbled. Everything paid out of pocket money. Then later on, I discovered Piggott's non ferrous yard, indoors, too far to go over lunch, but they had test gear. I remember a fabulous HV power supply, which worked, the size of a CR100, full of dials, switches, HT and LT. My Dad was often pressed into collecting, but when he got fed up I took my bike and somehow wheeled stuff home on the crossbar. My Dad, bless him, made me clear my shed when I went to Uni so it all went, mostly sold for peanuts to Ely Electrronics.
There is nothing like the experience of rooting about and finding wonderful things in an acre of scrap.

Richard_FM 23rd Jan 2020 2:27 pm

Re: Scrapyards to visit?
Tim Hunkin & Rex Garrod used to use a scrapyard called Sackers in Ipswich which handled the waste from a BT research lab as it almost always had something useful for one of the projects they were working on.

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 1:16 am.

Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2002 - 2020, Paul Stenning.