It all started with a Monsieur Louis Garchey, a Frenchman, who invented the eponymous garchey system just before the First World War.
When the Barbican was built, there were garchey systems in estates in Newcastle, Manchester, Leeds and London. Now there are just two others in England - both in London - one in Enfield and the other at Spa Green Estate, Islington.
The original manufacturer was Matthew Hall Ltd. The Barbican gave the maintenance contract to Linbrock and Sons who still do it. They make any parts that are needed. Some are made here in the Barbican.
Colin Iffland is the Barbican's expert. He began work here when the houses were just being built. When the estate was constructed, they assumed most household rubbish would go down the garchey and physical collections would be limited to one collection a week. In the early years, he had a team of 14 staff handling 24 tonnes of rubbish every week. Now it's down to 2 tonnes every three weeks and he manages with just 2 staff.
This reduction not just down to flat owners removing their garcheys. 600 have, but that still leaves over 1,400 still in operation. It is also down to changes in consumer packaging. The system was designed to remove tins and bottles, not plastic and polystyrene.
All is not lost. Taiwan have been looking at the garchey system for a new city they are building.