On one particular day back in 1987, I was digging a Victorian bottle tip at Mirfield in west Yorkshire. This is an area where there had once been plenty of Victorian houses and old rectories where the local doctors and mill owners used to live, so the prospects of good finds made it look very inviting. Indeed, this proved to be the case, with many 1890s medicine bottles, Codd bottles and even a lovely green glass Warner’s Safe Cure bottle being found. In addition, a huge variety of toothpaste lids from chemists and some superb examples of hand blown pontilled bottles were all there for the taking.
On the day in question, my friend Martin and I arrived and started digging to try and reach the layer of undisturbed ash a few feet from the bottom, which had not been dug by previous bottle diggers. Usually we had to dig to a depth of around 10 feet to hit fresh ash, then we would probe it carefully with our forks to extract the bottles. Despite our efforts, finds were a bit sparse, although we did recover a lovely French figural pipe bowl, depicting a blonde haired lady on a potty. Martin also found another good example of a French clay pipe bowl, in the form of a boy sitting on the bowl Both pipe bowls were in superb condition considering they had been buried for probably the best part of a century!