Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting MG NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Collector Steve certainly has an awful lot of bottle
STEVE Wheeler has spent 30 years amassing a collection of more than 20,000 milk bottles – even though he doesn’t like the taste and hasn’t touched a drop since he was a boy.
His collection weighs a staggering 16 tonnes and is so big that he needs six sheds in the garden at his home in Leigh Sinton Road, Malvern, to store it.
He owns more than 17,000 British bottles as well as some 2,500 from as far away as America, Pakistan and Australia.
The grandfather-of-two, aged 65, said his love of milk bottles began when he picked up his first specimens while out on walks in the countryside.
“If I was ever on a walk, I was the one on a mountain or hill to pick up a bottle and put it in my bag,” he said. “I remember getting my 150th milk bottle and being chuffed. I like the social history, the people I meet, I like the designs, the advertising they put on bottles.”
His favourite among his constantly growing collection of all shapes and sizes has a picture of 1950s pin-up Zoe Newton across it. The actress famously featured in the ‘Drinka Pinta Milka Day’ advertising campaign and the bottle has the slogan: “Drink your health in milk everyday.”
Although at 20,000 and counting it might seem Mr Wheeler’s collection is full to the brim, he is always on the lookout for more and currently has a hitlist of about 3,000 different bottles that he is keen to track down.
Top of his most-wanted list is a bottle from a dairy he knows little about but has discovered used to operate in Dymock, near Ledbury, until the late 1950s.
“I have a little bit of glass in my collection, not more than an inch in size, with blue printing on it. You can see the ‘D’ and the ‘Y’ and a bit of the ‘M’ printed on there but I have never managed to track down a full bottle,”
He is also short of several other bottles from the wealth of local dairies that used to be commonplace all over Herefordshire and Worcestershire and is hopeful local people may be able to help him boost his haul.
“Sadly when people find an old bottle they tend to just put it in the bin. It is such a shame,” he said.
Despite his love of milk bottles, Mr Wheeler has not touched a drop of milk – except for the odd dash in his tea – since he was growing up.
While partners do not always approve of their other halves’ hobbies, Mr Wheeler says his wife Sue, 65, is supportive of his unusual pastime.
“She doesn’t mind the collection.
She likes the old bottles mostly,” he said. “The thing she likes most of all about it is the travel and going to places at the drop of a hat.”
Mr Wheeler welcomes about 50 enthusiasts a year through the doors of his “museum” and said he would donate his collection without a second thought if the official authorities ever wanted to open a national milk bottle museum.
And while he pursues his pastime purely for enjoyment, he has also used it to raise funds for the charities he supports – Midlands Air Ambulance, RNLI, Samaritans and Macmillan Cancer Support.
Å Mr Wheeler is keen to hear from anyone who can help him add more milk bottles to his collection. Call 01684 569656 or e-mail milkbottlepast@ hotmail.com.
Comments are closed on this article.