He’s been named the UK’s biggest Lego fan, and has even moved home to accommodate his collecting passion.
Here – on the 60th anniversary of the popular toy – he tells the story behind his love for building:
When I was one or two, my father was in the army and brought home some Lego from the US.
It was what’s now called Duplo, and I must have been one or two at the time.
I suppose my collection over the years has grown from just a few sets to thousands of sets now.
It would be difficult to describe which is my favourite set. The Lego brick has been going for 60 years and there are iconic pieces from different eras. But I suppose my greatest interests are the sets I remember from my childhood in the 60s and 70s.
In reality, my collection probably takes up about four rooms. I’ve got a museum room, I’ve got a building room – although my son uses that as I don’t build a great deal any more – and I’ve got a couple of what I call overflow storage rooms for the ones that aren’t on display.
My collection starts off with sets from the 1950s, and then continues into the 60s, 70s and 80s. While obviously they are bringing out sets now and there’s some that I like, as a collector I like the challenge of tracking down sets and it’s sometimes too easy with the modern stuff.
People certainly didn’t collect in the very early days, so to get something that’s complete, that’s all in the box, is quite unusual. I’ve collected for 35 years and there’s some that it’s taken me 30 plus years to track down examples of.
Fire stations, a Volkswagen garage, and a church building from the 1950s are examples of things that were really hard to find at the time.
The thing I love is creativity, the feeling that I can build whatever I want. If I see a building in Sheffield that I quite like, I’ll build that. My son’s the same – he’ll build from his imagination and he loves that challenge.
I love Lego for the same reason that Lego survives and is going so well. It adapts with me: I’m able to take what I have, break it all up and change it as my interests change. I can see that my son has completely different interests, but he can create what’s in his imagination with the same bricks.
The other wonderful thing is that you can collect the history of the company. A brick from 1958 is still compatible with all the stuff today, it’s still usable and can still be used. You can break up sets and put them back together, work on making something really unique.
I was always a collector. My father collected, my grandfather collected. So there was this collecting bug that was there.
When I was a kid there was certain Lego sets in my childhood that I loved and obviously didn’t get because I didn’t have the money. When I was 16 or 17 I came across a set in a junk shop that I remembered really wanting when I was a kid. So I bought that, and then the collecting part of me started looking for others.
And of course then when you get older and you have your own credit card, the sky’s the limit really.
When I started collecting there was a part of me that wanted to get everything, which would have been impossible. So I became selective. The great thing about Lego is it lasts. It stands the test of time.
Earlier sets have much more of a personal value than a monetary one. But people collect what they remember, and of course the people coming into it now don’t remember the 60s and 70s.
I honestly don’t know how much I’ve spent in total. I don’t keep records because it’s meaningless: what it means to me isn’t a monetary thing. It only has a value when you come to sell it and I have no intention to sell it, therefore it has no value.
When it comes to the question of how many bricks I’ve got, it’s like asking how long is a piece of string. I’d say anything between two and ten million bricks.
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My wife appreciates the collection because it does tell a story and it tells the story of Lego and a story over time.
She does think it takes up a bit too much space though.