POTENTIALLY the biggest shell collection in Cheshire, worth thousands of pounds, belongs to a pensioner from Padgate. 

75-year-old John Chirgwin has been collecting shells since he was 19 and each shiny piece holds a memory from his life. 

The ambitious collector has scaled the country purchasing shells that have been found all around the world, with one of his most expensive purchases being a £1,000 giant shell. 

Rewinding back to when his infatuation first started, John said: “I was about 19 and me and my mother and father used to go exploring, we went right up to John O’ Groats. 

“The shells are from everywhere I go on holiday; I always have my mind on them.”  

John joined the Air force when he was younger for a fixed three years but was never able to travel during his service and has never travelled abroad since. 

Yet some of the shells that sit among his displays are from Australia, the Indian and Pacific Ocean and plenty more exotic places. 

Warrington Guardian: John has collected around 50 shells from all over the worldJohn has collected around 50 shells from all over the world (Image: Supplied)

Speaking on why he had kept up his expensive hobby for so long, John added: “I think it fills an emptiness in my life. I cannot have children and it is a very empty world. 

“One shell, my brother wanted and purchased, he died when he was 61. Its memories of my life.” 

John has built up a collection of some 50 shells, spending an eye-watering £3,000 in total, approximately. 

Some of the exotic shells in his collection include a Tridacna, a Nautilus, a Giant Queens Helmet, an Abalone shell, a sea urchin and an Australian Sea Snail shell which is over a foot long. 

While John’s love for shells continues to grow, his wife Carol does not have quite the same fondness for the ornaments that take centre stage in her home. 

Warrington Guardian: John forked out £1,000 on one of his biggest shellsJohn forked out £1,000 on one of his biggest shells (Image: Supplied)

“I don’t think my wife is too keen on them,” John added. “She sits around them while she is having her tea.” 

Alluding to the large sums of money spent on his hobby, John said: “I think other women would have thrown me out. My wife keeps threatening to take the card off me because I keep buying more shells.” 

Along with his shell collection, the retired factory worker also purchases taxidermy and horns from animals. 

“I collected a horn that was carved into the shape of a penguin,” he said. “I have bull's horns from America too, alligator's heads and taxidermy baby crocodiles.” 

Warrington Guardian: John has collected shells from all over the worldJohn has collected shells from all over the world (Image: Supplied)