Andy has quite a few different collections, many of which have appeared at least once at our meet ups at Kelham Island over the last year. Never one to walk past a junk shop without a thorough search inside for treasure, he ocacsionally turns up items that even he doesn’t know what they are!
His most extensive collection is an ever growing number of vintage telephones. It all started a couple of years ago with a yellow 746 type from the 70’s, found gathering dust on a stall at a car boot sale in Chesterfield. Now the collection is so big that most of it has to stay in boxes for most of the time. They don’t all arrive working either. Last summer around 30 LM Ericsson bakelite phones were ‘rescued’ from under a damp taupaulin in a back garden. A few of these have already been mechanically restored, with more cosmetic work to follow. He’s even found a way to repair cracks and breaks in bakelite and ABS plastic, so telephones that would until recently only have been fit for the scrap pile can now be meraculously brought back to life.
And while we’re talking about rescues… Item’s he won’t be bringing to a club event any time soon include two vintage cast-iron lamp-posts! These historic items are fast disappearing from the streets of Sheffield, and unable to easily save a local example, the next best thing was a generic gas-lamp post found on E-bay and a second gas lamp rescued from it’s previous second life in a back garden in Birmingham! That one proved to be a rare Derby column and is currently being renovated at a secret location.
Another type of lamp that features heavily is the oil lamp. Still available to buy new, these lamps have however now been largely forgotten by most people. Andy has amassed a large collection though, which can often be seen at vintage steam rallies and other after dark events around September, October and November, when they are fully lit using their original burners. No electric conversions here!
Andy’s latest collection is a small number of vintage mechanical sewing machines. These tie in nicely with his involvement with Repair Sheffield and their Repair Cafe events held at Heeley City Farm, where some of these 100+ year old machines can still be regularly found hard at work repairing all sorts of garments and leather goods for the people of Sheffield.
One collection not to have been displayed at Kelham Island as yet is an incredibly nostalgic group of old bus, tram and trolleybus ticket machines. These stem from his connection to the transport industry and trams in particular, having worked as a seasonal ‘guard’ on the traditional Blackpool Tramway and as a volunteer conductor at the National Tramway Museum at Crich. Machines from ‘Bell Punch’, ‘TIM’ and ‘Setright’ all feature. Some with quite interesting histories.
As with most collectors, Andy is always on the lookout for new items to add to the displays. He’s always willing to buy, swap or sell anything interesting. “It’s all about preserving our heritage.” he tells us. “Things made a hundred years ago are almost always far superior to their modern equivalent. We can learn a lot from history as well. A friend was recently very excited about being given a cordless screwdriver. So I opened my old tool box and explained that none of my screwdrivers ever HAD a cord!”