Some people collect stamps, others coins. But it is not everyday you see a collection of memorabilia spanning more than four decades, all related to one of the world’s most famous superheroes.
But for Steve Mathews, Batman is more than just a love – it’s an obsession.
By day, Steve runs a hairdressers in Kirkham – but by night, his garage turns into his batcave.
Toothbrushes, cereal boxes – even limited edition cans of spaghetti – if it has the famous Batman logo on it, you will find it at his Lytham home. For the 57-year-old it is a throwback to his youth, an era when times were hard and a ray of light came in the form of the Batman television series, made famous by actor Adam West.
Steve, brought up in London, said: “It was not easy – I did not have any toys and it was a case of my dad often having to sell things to put food on the table.
“But, after watching the TV series, I started getting into it. I had a cape and mask in 1966. Through the years I started to buy things.
“My dad was quite into antiques. He always said ‘keep the boxes, it will help to keep their value’.
“As I got older, it gradually became an obsession.”
Steve, who has owned Trendies Hairdressers in Kirkham for more than 25 years, said his collection soon began to grow, at its height reaching more than 2,000 items.
He said he felt a connection to Bruce Wayne’s alter ego because he was just a “normal guy, who had no real powers.”
After leaving London, the family moved to St Neots, in Cambridgeshire, before moving to Lancashire and settling in Lytham.
“We moved to the Fylde coast and all the items came with me. I eventually put them in the garage and even put heating in to make it nice. The collection got so big I had to walk in sideways, a bit like a crab.”
Steve hit the headlines earlier this month after trying to sell some of his collection at auction.
The Batman fan said his wife, Julie, had had an operation and he wanted to make it easier for the pair at home.
The items went to auction at Manchester, but not all sold – a fact Steve puts down to a lack of publicity.
He openly admits he hopes to sell the items to fund a new hot tub at home – but remains proud of his collection – one of which – his most prized possession – was sourced by interesting methods.
He added: “I have spent tens of thousands of pounds on it all.
“A lot of the stuff I can’t keep anymore, but certain items are very special.
“Through my collections I became friendly with a toy shop owner in Blackpool who used to arrange items for me. One day he called me up and said a woman had visited the shop with a special item.
“Apparently she walked in with a carrier bag and said the owner could have the item for £5.
“He was dubious, but looked inside and saw it was a 1966 Corgi Batmobile. In mint condition it is probably worth £1,500.
“She told the toy shop owner her husband had had an affair and she wanted to get her own back! I ended up buying it for about £150.”
Steve, who has two children, Sophie, 27 and Charlotte, 24, said he still plans to sell most of the items at an auction in Sheffield next year, but admitted his collection grew and grew in part because of his childhood.
“I was never silly with my money and only bought it if I could afford it,” he said.
“It is probably to do with my childhood when we poor.
“I think I have become a bit nostalgic – when I did have things they may have been sold – I guess I became obsessive.”
Steve said, with the collection soon to be sold, his wife Julia may struggle buying him birthday presents – but said if he had a blank chequebook he would still try and buy one special item.
He added: “It would have to be a replica 1966 Batmobile. They made the original using a Chevrolet – if I had the money I would have bought one.
“It is just the perfect car.”