Curse of the Victorian bottle diggers: How amateur Indiana Joneses are causing hazard at a nature spot

Holes left by people digging for old bottles
Holes left by people digging for old bottles

Bottle diggers hunting for Victorian glass artefacts have been blasted for leaving a popular footpath in a “dangerous”state for walkers.

A footpath near Tilesheds, just off Benton Road, has been targeted by those desperate to uncover old bottles from the land which was once a former tip in the Victorian era.

Hole left by people looking for old bottles

Hole left by people looking for old bottles

But bosses at South Tyneside Council say as well as being dangerous, the digging is placing an ‘additional burden on taxpayers who ultimately have to pay for the repairs’.

Residents have also slammed the mess they have left behind which they say is making the place dangerous for people to walk and a mess.

One resident fears it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured by either falling down one of the holes or cutting themselves on broken glass left behind.

The resident who lives on the nearby Whiteleas estate said: “It’s been going on for a couple of years now. But they are still digging the footpaths up - it’s a hell of a mess.

It’s got the potential for someone to fall down one of the holes and for someone to be hurt quite nasty with all the glass lying about.

Resident

“No one seems to be interested in tidying it up.

“It’s a very popular place, especially with dog owners. We have to be careful when we go walking with the dogs as there’s broken glass and deep holes.

“Some of the holes are about four to five foot deep.”

He added: “The area is popular with kids and people taking their grandkids, especially in the blackberry picking season.

Holes left behind by people digging for bottles

Holes left behind by people digging for bottles

“It’s got the potential for someone to fall down one of the holes and for someone to be hurt quite nasty with all the glass lying about.

“Something needs to be done about it and soon. People are getting fed up with it all. It’s a really nice area and there’s a lot of wildlife but it’s just being destroyed.”

The hunt for Victorian bottles can be a lucrative pass time, with some bottles fetching between £25 - £150. In rare cases, discoveries can lead to payouts of hundreds and even thousands of pounds.

However, the payout depends on the rarity, condition and appearance with many going under the hammer at specialist auctions organised for bottle collectors.

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “We are aware of a problem with people digging for bottles in this area. We strongly discourage this activity as it causes obvious hazards for both residents and the animals in the fields. It also places on additional burden on taxpayers who ultimately have to pay for the repairs to the footpaths.”