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The UK’s Biggest Hoarders

Many of us enjoy collecting nostalgic items that stir happy memories. At some point, most people have tried to hoard something. Whether it’s toys and dressing-up outfits, figurines, dolls, comics or newspapers, there’s nothing wrong with collecting mementos of our younger days.

However, for some people, this becomes a form of obsessive behaviour, known as hoarding. While there’s nothing wrong with collecting and storing treasured possessions, when it becomes hoarding, this can be dangerous!

For most of us, collecting items is a bit of fun. Research has shown that women tend to be secret clothes collectors, while men go for classic cars if they have the money, or old toys and comics.

© Charlie Goodall /


Clothes hoarders

A survey by Wilko of 2,000 adults revealed 68% of women admitted to being “hoarders”. They have bought clothes and shoes that have never been worn – a symptom of hoarding. Only 24% of men say they have kept unworn clothes.

Around a quarter of women say they hide some of their purchases from their partner, as they know there will be a confrontation about how much they have bought. Almost 50% of women surveyed said they had at least 100 items of clothing, while 10% admitted to having more than 250 items!

On average, the women surveyed owned 18 pairs of shoes. However, 80% of them confessed they wore only three or four pairs regularly, leaving at least 14 pairs of shoes crammed into the bottom of the wardrobe.

Experts advise that if you’re a self-confessed clothes hoarder, you should make yourself have regular clear-outs and give unwanted items to charity.


Car collections

Men who have enough money confess to hoarding cars! However, while the owners may start off with good intentions, buying a rusty old car and planning to do it up, in reality, this often doesn’t happen and they are left with a rotten old vehicle in their garage or garden.

In the United States, some vehicle traders try to track car hoarders, with the aim of picking up a bargain to renovate. There have been some shocking stories – there were reports of 80 Nash Healey sports cars hoarded in Maryland.

In Connecticut, a barn was unearthed, containing scores of old cars, some of them standing on their end, so more could be packed in! Hen houses in New Jersey were found to contain not fowl, but dozens of totally wrecked exotic cars.

Dealers who chase old cars report the owners are often “cantankerous recluses” who store the cars until the metal rusts away, the soft parts rot and the cars become completely useless and beyond repair! These are the true car hoarders.


Sports cars

Famous people aren’t immune to this expensive but ultimately futile pastime. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the wealthy sportsman and heir to Shakespeare Fishing Tackle, John Shakespeare, began collecting luxury Bugattis. None were in great condition and the majority were disassembled.

He stored some of his 30 cars in Florida and the rest in Illinois. Eventually, he sold them all, including a rare Type 41 Royale, to Fritz Schlumpf, the Swiss textile industrialist, for his collection at the Musée National de l’Automobile de Mulhouse.

Speculation was rife that Shakespeare was keen to show he wasn’t a hoarder and that Schlumpf was relentless in pursuit of his prize.


Man cave

Men also tend to collect comics and old childhood toys. Research shows comics are particularly popular – such as the old DC comics from the 1970s, or older Dandy and Beanos. Men also collect action figures such as Action Man or Star Wars memorabilia.

However, many items end up in the attic gathering dust once purchased and not a lot of the comics are actually read! Research shows a comic collector might not actually want to read the rare issues he finds of X-Men comics – he just wants to have the complete run of issues for his “man cave”.

Psychologist Dr Christian Jarrett suggests there may be a good reason for this behaviour, dating back to pre-historic times in evolution, when men traditionally accumulated resources.

One school of thought believes this kind of gathering and storing behaviour is ingrained subconsciously into male genetics. There’s some evidence that men with prestige items (such as luxury cars in good condition) use them to signal potential mates and show they’re a “good catch”.

However, other psychologists claim men are simply more into “things” and “gadgets” for no real reason, while women tend to value people and relationships more, although they accept there’s an overlap and it’s not as clear-cut as this.


Collecting v hoarding

Sadly, for some people, collecting becomes hoarding. As every room fills up with old items, it can reach the stage where the householder has difficulty getting around their property. Daily tasks such as cleaning, cooking, personal hygiene and sleeping become seriously impaired.

One infamous hoarder, senior citizen Arthur Watson, of Plymouth, hit the headlines when he finally decided to clean up his home, after more than 30 years’ hoarding.

His daughter’s imminent wedding spurred his decision to clear the clutter, which started to build up after his divorce in the 1980s. Eventually, he revealed he was hiring a van to take the rubbish to the tip, so his house could become a home again.

If things are starting to get out of hand at your home or office, and you think it’s time for a serious clear-out, hire a reliable van for a convenient and cost-effective means of getting to the tip – or the charity shop if you think someone else could make good use of anything. Contact H&H Van Hire for further details of our vehicles.

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