A MAN who spent 25 years building up a 100-strong collection of vacuum cleaners after becoming obsessed with them as a child admitted he ‘doesn’t like cleaning’ his house, but has vowed to keep collecting the household appliances.

Sam Watson, 32, of Oxfordshire has spent his life collecting vacuums and now has 100 dating back more than 50 years.

What makes us want to collect particular things? Do we set eyes on something and suddenly think: I’d like not one, but dozens of those?

Whatever triggers your interest, once you start it’s very difficult to stop. From the age of about eight I collected postcards. It started with a handful from the Lake District and developed from there. My uncle travelled widely for work and would send me postcards from all over the world, while my nan, who lived in Majorca, sent postcards of Spanish flamenco dancers, featuring dresses made from frilly material.

I still have my many scrapbooks, taking up valuable space in the loft. My husband calls it hoarding, but I say “it’s collecting and that’s different.”

Is it, though? We have, my husband says, too many jugs. I admit to a weakness and it could be time for a cull. But were they classed as a ‘collection’, rather than random items I’ve bought in charity shops, I believe they’d be afforded more of a protected status.

Just out of spite, I might get rid of them and start collecting bus tickets. Collecting ephemera, the minor bits and pieces that make up our lives, is not uncommon. I did a bit of that in my youth as well, such as tickets from memorable outings. I still have my ticket for the train up Snowdon, a journey made in my early teens.

Retired policeman Mark Cranston, from the Scottish Borders, spoke recently on Radio 4’s Moneybox about his collection of almost 3,500 bricks he keeps in the shed. He believes you either have a collector’s gene in you or not. “It’s all about finding bricks that you don’t have. Other folk couldn’t care less,” he says.

I once visited the fascinating Sir John Soane’s Museum, a London townhouse belonging to neo-classical architect Soane, which is packed with his collections of art and antiquities including a huge stone sarcophagus so large he had to knock a hole in the rear wall to get it in.

Of course collecting can be an investment - hence the feature on Moneybox. The Dinky Toys of our youth are now worth big bucks. It pains me to think of the little vehicles my siblings and I bashed and crashed against our skirting boards. We weren’t to know we were kissing goodbye to early retirement.

Collectors are often labelled eccentric. I warm to them. I once interviewed a Bradford man who collected lawn mowers. His passion for them was lovely to see.

My neighbour Maggie is what’s known as an arctophile - a collector of teddies. She doesn’t relegate them to the loft or garage, as many collectors do, but has them on show in the living room. It’s wonderful to see how excited she is when a new one joins the family.

Of course, for collectors, the internet has been a game changer. If you’re searching for something, it’s bound to be on the World Wide Web, but it’s not as exciting as finding a much-wanted gem in a dusty corner at a village hall sale.

We are in desperate need of a new vacuum cleaner. The current one blows out as much as it sucks in. It’s been in the living room since I last tried to use it.. “Can’t you put that thing away?” my husband asked.

I’m tempted to say: “No, it’s part of my new collection…”