Stolen spikes: the strange history of the Irish border

9 December 2017

9:00 AM

9 December 2017

9:00 AM

Border skirmishes

What did the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic used to look like?

— In 1923 a Common Travel Area between the UK and what was then the Irish Free State established free movement. Passport checks began in the second world war and ended in 1952, though some customs checks continued. The first attempt to control the border came in 1970, when 51 back roads were closed with spikes. But people kept stealing the spikes. Thereafter, there was no official barrier on most of the 200 cross-border roads but patrols were in place and people were expected to cross at 20 crossing points. These were removed after the Good Friday agreement in 1998.


The East of England Co-op is to trial selling some food past its sell-by date more cheaply. Where does most food get thrown away in Britain (once past the farm gate)?

Quantity of waste per year

Household waste 7.3m tonnes
Processing factories
1.7m tonnes
Catering trade
0.9m tonnes
0.25m tonnes
Street litter
0.1m tonnes
0.04m tonnes

Source: WRAP


Cash flow

A dispute over fees threatens ATM machines. How many are there in Britain?

— As of 2015 there were 70,270: 27 per cent attached to bank branches, 46 per cent retail outlets, 10 per cent leisure centres and 8 per cent garages or service stations.

— Of these, 52,717 (75 per cent) are free to use. These are more heavily used, so only 2 per cent of withdrawals incur a fee.

— The average machine dispenses £7,576 per day. Individual withdrawals average out at £69.

Source: Payments UK

Perilous pets

An Oldham family were reported to have adopted a three-stone African wildcat as a pet. How many dangerous wild animals are licensed to be kept on private property in the UK (excluding zoos open to the public)? Figures are from Freedom of Information requests and not all councils responded:

Poisonous snakes 300


Crocodiles 9



Source:Press Association

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