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Former ship plumber shows off collection of memorabilia

A Burlesdon-based retired ship’s plumber has turned his home into a shrine to his former life and work on the high seas.

Perc Wiltshire, 79, has dedicated the last two decades of his life to collecting more than 1,300 pieces of memorabilia related to his work as a plumber on ocean liners. He travelled across the globe on the liners, including world famous ships such as the SS Canberra, the QE2 and the Oriana.

Mr Wiltshire’s collection includes 800 postcards, 18 plates, 60 models, 90 pictures, 200 books and 10 jigsaws, many relating to the life of a plumber based at the Southampton docks. He also has numerous scrapbooks filled with hundreds of shipping articles and images taken from the Daily Echo.

One of his fondest memories is the fitting of pipework into cabins on board the QE2 as it completed its voyage between Southampton and New York. Mr Wiltshire entered into the world of ship plumbing following an apprenticeship and a spell of National Service. His first job was for cruise firm P&O, working on the Strathaird ship which carried Brits who were emigrating to Australia during the 1950s,

“I just collect ships I like and there’s no better ship than the QE2. It’s just a hobby. I don’t drink and I don’t smoke, but this keeps me busy. It’s because I worked on them and I have good memories of it,” Mr Wiltshire told the Daily Echo.