John Pringle is a man who does not do things by halves. He likes soup. So when it’s on offer he’s been known to have 60 tins in the cupboard.
He likes Branston pickle in his cheese sandwiches, so he’s quite likely to have three jars stored away.
And above the kitchen cupboard there are six huge bottles of ginger beer at the ready.
“I like it,” is his simple explanation.
But it’s the collection of buses and lorries that dominate his Midhurst home at Russell Court.
Seventy-six-year-old John just can’t stop himself and they have quite literally taken over his first-floor flat.
“It’s the thrill of the chase and then the acquisition,” he explains as he surveys the 900-or-so items he has on display on every available piece of shelf and wall space. There are more than 2000 more stored away in cupboards, drawers and containers.
And it’s not just the collections. John is very knowledgeable about the bus and lorry business, who runs what and what engine is put in which vehicle.
It’s all in his head.
It was an obsession which he kept pretty much under control when his wife Wendy was alive.
They lived down the road in Heathfield Green and John’s collection was confined to the spare bedroom and his office.
“I was allowed to put things up on shelves in my office and I kept the rest in cupboards in the second bedroom,” he said.
“In all fairness I don’t think my wife was fully conversant with how much stuff I had.
“I would have liked to display in the sitting room and the dining room, but I didn’t even raise the matter with her.”
Sadly Wendy died just over three years ago and John moved to his two-bedroom flat in Russell Court – and suddenly his collectomania knew no bounds.
“When I was ten or so, I was a bus-spotter – all my friends were train-spotters, but for me it was buses,” said John.
Despite his busmania, his collecting started with 00-gauge Hornby trains.
“I was repping for a timber firm and I used to spend time going round junk shops. I collected a few and then I got married and other things were more important.
“But in the 1980s and 1990s, I started collecting buses and then lorries. I just love buses. I travelled on them and went to school on them.”
His buses and lorries are still beautifully kept in their original boxes.
“Half the value is because they are still in their boxes. If I took them out, I’d have to find somewhere to store the boxes as well,” he said.
He has no idea of the value of the collection: “But it runs into quite a few thousands as some are limited editions,” he said.
But the value is of secondary interest to John. What interests him is finding that elusive last bus to complete a collection.
“If you are trying to complete part of your collection, it’s the satisfaction of finding one at a toy fair or at an auction. It’s the thrill of the chase and then suddenly seeing something you have been looking for for ages.”
John is so keen on his collections he has even painted, what used to be his dining room London Transport Bus red and the kitchen is the green and yellow of the Southdown Motor Company.
For full story and pictures see Midhurst and Petworth Observer, Thursday August 7