A LEDBURY man has been forced to sell the UK's largest collection of beer cans for £25k - after it got so big he needed an extension. 

Nick West, 65, had been gathering an impressive collection of unusual and rare cans for 42 years and had amassed 10,300 of them at his peak.

The father-of-two from North Somerset initially made the “heartfelt” decision to trim down his £25,000 collection - to just 1,500.

But two years ago, the couple moved to Ledbury, Herefordshire from Langford, in North Somerset - having previous lived in Clevedon for 33 years.

Moving to a smaller home meant Nick had to finally sell the remaining 1,497 cans because the couple had 'no space left for them'.

And he has now been left with just THREE in his once booming collection.

He sold the remaining cans to a couple of Italian dealers who travelled all the way from Italy especially to collect his precious collection.

Nick said: "I first started collecting cans in 1976 and was extremely passionate about it - so it was a massive wrench to see the last part of my lifetime’s work disappear out of the door.

"I found it tricky to let them go ."

When Nick had his impressive collection of 10,300 tinnies, he and his wife, Deborah, 64, had to build an extension on a previous home to make space for the cans.

They also later moved into a large five-bedroomed Victorian house so he could have them on display.

Though when they moved to a smaller house, he sold 6,000 of the cans for a sum of £13,500 which is helping to fund his retirement.

A further 1,800 cans were given to local museum Oakham Treasures in Portbury, Bristol - leaving him with just 1,500.

But Nick has since sold the rest of his collection to beer can dealers in Italy - so his special tinnies will find themselves in other collections around the world.

Now he has his favourite three left.

He explained: "We had some negotiations, as you do, and agreed a price - so they travelled over from Italy in a van and spent a few days here.

"We did the deal and they disappeared with the cans!"

Nick could not bear to part with all of his collection, however, so kept a remaining three close to his heart.

He said:  "I couldn't let them all go."

Nick describes the three cans he chose to kept and why, as he explains: "The first is a Heineken 275ml (a half pint).

"This was the first can in my collection and dates back to 13 July 1975.

"The second can is again 275ml Hull Brewery Nut Brown Ale: I kept this one because I really like the simplicity of the design - definitely a blast from the past.

"The final can is a 330ml can Nick West Ruby Ale - I designed this myself to celebrate my 40 years of collecting in 2015.

"I commissioned a small run of 50 cans containing a variety of different beers."

Nick, who worked in marketing until retiring in 2017, recalled the start of his beer collecting journey back when he was just a teenager.

He said: “It all started when I was 16 years old - I enjoyed collecting things like stamps but I had just become interested in drinking so married the two past times up.

“I remember at the very beginning Deborah hosted a party when we were at school and everyone thought I was weird because I went around collecting the empty cans for my collection.

“Deborah grew to resent the hobby because I had a small collection when I met her but it’s had a massive impact on our lives.''

The oldest beer can in the collection dated back to 1936.

Now, he has moved back to smaller premises with Deborah, who Nick met when he was just 16 at school.

Deborah bought him a book about beer can collecting which helped invigorate his passion for collecting.

One of the major reasons why Nick was forced to stop collecting was the boom in popularity of craft beer in cans.

For the first 40 years, he was collecting between 150 and 250 cans per year.

But after the rise in craft beers he was collecting up to 650 a year which became too much to handle.

Since then the popularity of canned craft beers has gone through the roof. 

Nick estimates that there are over 1,000 new craft cans in the UK every year, making it impossible to keep up and re-affirmi