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Friday, July 23, 1999 Published at 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK


UK

Return of the rag man

Steptoe and Son: An enduring image of the rag and bone man

Many decades have passed since the rag and bone man dumped his last load, tethered his horse, and parked his cart for the final time.

But his long and well-earned retirement is about to end - thanks to environment-friendly people in the Scottish harbour town of Montrose.

The area's community action group has shelled out £15,000 to bring back the familiar sight of the rag man's horse and cart, encapsulated forever by television favourites Steptoe and Son.


The BBC's Colin Mackinnon: "Bringing Steptoe and Son back to life"
Group co-ordinator Philip Lampkin says the aim of the scheme is to encourage people to think about recycling their junk.

The project will pay for itself as profits made from recycling the junk are returned to the community.

Mr Lampkin said: "When we came to cost the idea, with the help of the local vet who keeps Clydesdale horses, we worked out that having the animals and keeping them for a year, and paying a driver at £5 an hour, came to £15,000."

Winning support

The idea became reality when the group won support from the Angus Environment Trust and Angus Council.

Head of Environmental Services Ian Webster is keen to see the project succeed, particularly in view of the fact all councils have to comply with government targets on recycling.


[ image: Wilf Bramell: Rag man extraordinaire]
Wilf Bramell: Rag man extraordinaire
He said: "It complements what the council is trying to do in recycling, it will also provide employment, and opportunities for the wider community to contribute to recycling.

"In particular, the elderly and those without the means of getting to the council's recycling centre will benefit."

Mr Webster added: "In a limited way the council already undertakes some kerb side collections.

"But with budget restraints we could not possibly consider a wider kerb side house-to-house collection of recyled material."

Fond memories

People in Montrose's Black Horse pub seemed very much in favour of stepping back in time to the days of the rag and bone man's pick-ups.

One regular recalled the weekly junk run along his street: "I can remember the rag and bone man. The kids would get a balloon or tin whistle from him when the rags were handed over."

Some thought the idea was such a good gimmick it would definitely catch on and others believed that the environment-friendly scheme was the right way to go.



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