28 October 2010
So what’s in those big yellow boxes?
Brian Micklethwait

One of my favourite means of transporting myself is to go for walks, in London, and in particular beside the River Thames in London.  It is surely a significant transport issue that walking alongside the Thames in London has got steadily easier as the decades have passed, as more bits of riverside path have been added to what was already there.  I would love to learn more about who exactly set this process in motion and how it has been kept going.  Clearly, nobody is allowed to build anything next to the river now without a piece of riverside walk being included, even if it will only join up with the rest of the riverside walk years later.  Is there an office where all this is “coordinated”?

As I walk along next to the river, I see things, especially things in (or should that be “on”) the river (and a lot of things go by river these days), that puzzle me.  Like this:


I’m talking, in particular, about these:


You see these all the time, being dragged up and down the river.  But what’s in them?

With the magic of computerised photos, I can take a close look at what looks like it could be a clue:


WRWA?  Indeed.  WRWA.  Western Riverside Waste Authority.  Inside all those yellow boxes is: shit, basically.

Cory Environmental Ltd, the Authority’s Waste Management Services Contractor, operate two waste transfer stations situated on the River Thames in South London; one in Wandsworth and the other in Battersea.

So now I know.

  1. I would love to learn more about who exactly set this process in motion and how it has been kept going.

    The Thames Path is a National Trail (capitalised) and there is support and funding for such things from government, but I doubt that really is the story. The trend has been the same in every city on a river or harbour or seafront I know in the developed world. One can now walk a lot more of the shore of Sydney Harbour than one could a few decades back. Part of it is just de-industrialisation. There has been redevelopment, providing the opportunity to build paths. Plus less polluted waterways makes people more likely to want them.

    Posted by Michael Jennings on  28 October 2010 at 05:42 pm

  2. It’s always the same that the movment of shit is not recognized on the first glance. In NYC I was always wondering about these trains http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hlad9IxTLbo
    and this ship http://www.flickr.com/photos/peet/4691601995/

    Posted by PeetTheEngineer on  29 October 2010 at 01:02 am

  3. Many years ago, in those romantic days before containers, a small fleet of small ships operated from Manchester, down the Manchester Ship Canal, along past Liverpool and out into Liverpool Bay where they eliminated their cargoes and then returned back home to repeat the process. We referred to them as “Banana Boats”, beats “Yellow Containers”, I think.

    Posted by Peter Melia on  29 October 2010 at 11:24 pm

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