Property tycoon's monopoly position
Adam Gretton For a man who owns so many houses and hotels, Frank Huson is not too concerned about the credit crunch and downturn in the property market.
For a man who owns so many houses and hotels, Frank Huson is not too concerned about the credit crunch and downturn in the property market.
While first-time buyers struggle to get mortgages and homeowners see prices continue to fall, the Norfolk property tycoon is looking to expand his portfolio.
The businessman is in the market to add to his impressive collection in this country and around the world - one that already consists of thousands of green homes and red hotels in places like Old Kent Road and Mayfair, railway stations and utility companies.
The 57-year-old from Thetford, who possesses more than 1,000 Monopoly sets from across the globe, is having to create more space at his home to accommodate his growing collection.
The father-of-three is also hoping to create his own Thetford version of the popular property board game as a tribute to the town where he has lived for the last 28 years.
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Mr Huson, owner of Thetford Home Improvement Specialists in Telford Way, who has a spare bedroom stacked full of Monopoly sets from across Britain, Europe, America and Australasia, says he has lost count of how many he owns.
The businessman first played the timeless board game when he was about 10 years old and was a member of the after-school Monopoly club at Thurlestone Secondary Modern in Ipswich. But he only started collecting following a family holiday in Mallorca 20 years ago when he bought a travel version and decided to buy a new set when he returned home.
“Because I liked playing the game so much I thought it would be nice to have a collection,” he said, “but I did not realise there were so many versions from day one to the present.
“I started buying British ones at markets and antique fairs and then ones from America and around the world. Since the early 90s they have been producing Monopoly sets for every major town and city and bring out different themed ones. The collection just snowballed.”
Monopoly was first invented by an unemployed gas fitter in America in the 1930s, who drew the layout for the game - based on Atlantic City - on a tea towel. Parker Brothers began mass production in 1935 and the London version was brought out by Leeds-based Waddingtons a year later. An estimated 750 million people have played the game since.
Mr Huson said he was too busy to play Monopoly regularly but wanted to get the Thetford version licensed and produce a catalogue for collectors of the game.
“The original British one was on the streets of London and I need to do quite a bit of research to match the Thetford roads and streets up like-for-like.”
“It is a great game. It really gets your adrenalin going when you are playing and you can pretend you are a property tycoon. I think what has kept it going is the variety. They have not stood still and it is not the same old boring game,” he said.
Mr Huson has hundreds of British Monopoly sets, including Norwich, Cambridge and Ipswich, special and anniversary editions, and themed games on subjects such as Star Wars, Nascar, World Cups and ones produced by companies like Ford and UPS as souvenirs for their staff.
He added that he was still trying to get hold of a version produced by the British Red Cross for PoWs in Germany during the second world war that had secret compartments containing false papers and documents and one of the 500 special editions that was made for the Lord Mayor's ball in Leeds in the 1960s.