VACUUM cleaner fan James Brown says: “I just like them.”
He adds: “There’s no definitive reason. There’s just an attraction there.
“I like vacuuming as well, but I don’t use a lot of my collection – especially as they get older.
“I might switch them on while I’m showing someone, but I don’t clean the house with them. If you wear out the original parts, you can’t replace them.”
His museum now boasts around 170 models, but James also keeps a private collection of 50 Kirby models at home. The oldest model in his collection is a Hoover 700, made in 1926, but one machine still eludes him, he says.
“I had a Spinney 800 when I was about ten, but it got to the point where I was running out of space. I shared my room with my brother at the time. I had to get rid of it and I’ve never been able to find a replacement.”
James got his first machine when he was eight.
He said: “Within a year we went to the Cattle Market in Nottingham and bought a second one with my pocket money for about £3. When that broke, I went and got a third. It started from there.”
James has received a grant from The Prince’s Trust to set up the shop and museum.
He estimates he has spent between £30,000 to £50,000 on vacuum cleaners over the years, sourcing them from house clear-outs, second-hand shops and eBay. He maintains, that while pre-Second world War vacuum cleaners were a luxury item and would routinely cost £30 or £40 in a time when a car would sell for £100, modern vacuum cleaners aren’t built to last.
Discussing changing styles through the years, James said: “The design hasn’t changed that much to be honest. In the late ‘60s designers started to include a cloth bag, but bagless machines have been around since the vacuum cleaner came out.”
James, 32, opened a shop and museum in January, 2010, but decided to move from Eastwood to take advantage of cheaper rent after his brother bought the building. He gained a qualification in mechanical and electrical engineering, but taught himself to repair the appliances after collecting tips from fellow enthusiasts.
The world’s media swiftly got wind of his unusual enterprise, and since then James has fielded interviews with reporters from Dubai, Australia and America, featuring on the US news channel CNN. He has also contributed to debates about European rulings on the wattage of domestic appliances.
“Most people have memories of vacuum cleaners when growing up or older people when starting out with their new lives when setting up a new home,” said James, welcoming everyone to view his collection for free in the new premises at 23 Market Street, Heanor.
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