“THE pleasure to collecting is in the finding,” said Ronnie Davies.

“You chase it, you collect it, you find it.

“It’s all done for pleasure. It’s the hunt, the chase. When you hunt something down, when you get something you’ve been after for years, it’s fantastic.”

In the 10 years or so he’s been trading in earnest, Ronnie has witnessed the ebb and flow of collecting trends.

It seems every generation that grows up produces collectors. They range from older people eager to snap up vintage Dinky and Corgi cars and memorabilia of 1950 television to Star Wars enthusiasts and fans of everything from He-Man and Thundercats to the Toy Story franchise.

Reasons for collecting range from regret over childhood toys broken or lost to finally having something they sorely desired many years ago but could not afford.

Ronnie, 53, first came to Swindon aged six. His family were one of many who left the capital in search of better lifestyles and more opportunities.

He caught the collecting bug early and in unusual circumstances.

“It started purely because I got into a little bit of petty trouble – me and my friends – and a police sergeant came round to my house to have a chat with me. That’s how it was done then.

“I spoke to him about why I’d got into a bit of bother and he said, ‘What do you in your spare time?’

“He produced some Victorian bottles. He had a briefcase – I remember it clearly. Derek White was his name, and his son’s a collector now. He buys from me, so it’s gone full circle.

“I asked where he got them. I was fascinated by these bottles. They were from Swindon. He was the secretary of what was then the Wiltshire Antique Bottle Collectors’ Club.

“He explained to me that they went digging at the weekends in Victorian tips, and that it was an organised event. He gave me one bottle and one to my mate. We were both there getting a telling-off!”

By coincidence, Ronnie and his friends later met a bottle collector at the old Croft Woods site where Allied Dunbar would later be headquartered.

“He was filthy dirty and he had a gigantic shovel and a fork with him. I can remember him clearly”

Ronnie was inspired to start what became the town’s most comprehensive collection of Swindon and Wiltshire-made ginger beer bottles, but later stopped digging when he discovered other pastimes such as girls, scooters and clubbing. A fellow collector offered to buy his bottles.

“I still know him now. He wrote a book on Wiltshire ginger beers which featured my stuff – and I then got addicted to selling.

“I made enough money to go on holiday with and moved on from there.”

Ronnie continued to collect everything from vinyl records to vintage TV memorabilia. He also had a successful career as a transport manager and latterly in HGV driver recruitment, but eventually decided he needed a change.

“I got up one morning and thought, ‘I’ve had enough of this, being on call twenty-four hours a day.’ I had always been collecting through car boots and I had a whole garage full of stuff.

“It was full of collectables, from vinyl records to toys to militaria, you name it.

“I quit my job on a Friday and started trading at Portobello Road on a Saturday, took four figures in six hours and never looked back. That was it.”

Although successful, Ronnie cautions those who would follow in his footsteps that trading in collectables is not as easy as certain TV programmes would have us believe.

“They’re a complete fantasy of what the real world is all about. There is hundreds of miles of driving, there are early mornings, there are are twelve-hour days, and it’s not for anybody who doesn’t want to put everything they have into it.

“It’s an awful hard thing to jack in a job worth thousands and thousands of pounds a year and just go out and do it. It’s not for the faint hearted. People think you can just turn up, throw it on a table and away you go.”