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Tales from the Riverbank: Record water levels dig out antique finds, say leaders of Grantham Rivercare

The record rainfall we have experienced over the recent winter months is now, hopefully, behind us, write David Martin and Ian Simmons of Grantham Rivercare.

It will take some time for the water table to recede to ‘normal’ levels and perhaps even longer for gardens and farmland to dry out.

One of the consequences of the high water levels and flooding we have endured is that our river - and others - flow faster and this has physical results, which manifest themselves in erosion of river banks and the potential displacement of waterside trees. From our focus of interest, fast flowing rivers dig out things that have lain buried over time. These can take the form of rocks and boulders that shift from their original position, but also revealing vintage litter for our volunteers to discover and enjoy.

Grantham RiverCare co-leaders David Martin (left) and Ian Simmons
Grantham RiverCare co-leaders David Martin (left) and Ian Simmons

In Grantham we have made some spectacular finds. Of note was a Hinari TV discarded on the banks of the Mow Beck. These televisions were sold by Dixons. Long term residents will remember them, their site now occupied by Costa. Hinari operated from 1987 to 1989 when they were acquired by Alba. In this case, the unit had been in the wild for so long, a tree had grown up through the screen. Just in time to show BBC Tree perhaps?

We often wonder why so many items can be carelessly discarded by members of the public and how they remain unfound for so long. We have written previously about cigarette butts taking a decade or more to degrade, but a forty year old Coca-Cola can, carrier bags from long defunct stores including Woolworths and Safeway. While many items don’t have tangible dating evidence, the designs of the packaging and their branding allows us to track back through the huge resources of the Interwebs.

Indeed, ace litter picker Jason Alexander who has done much to promote the message of litter picking nationally, has launched the first ‘Vintage Litter Museum’ in Woodbridge, Suffolk. His prize item is a sweet packet from 1972, some fifty two years young!

Writing about these items is a way of sharing our finds with you, but sometimes you really have to see them to believe that they have been polluting our environment for decades. Let’s hope the work our volunteers carry out will mean that we won’t have to write about vintage litter from the 2020s in the future…

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