Daily Echo:

A DEVASTATED Southampton pensioner has lost entire collection of vintage films after fire ripped through his private cinema.

The 87-year-old had amassed almost a century's worth of 16mm and 8mm movies after taking over from his father, who began buying and selling cinema reels after the Second World War.

About 3,000 highly-flammable reels were destroyed in the blaze, along with his home cinema.

One of the movies lost was a rare 1930s copy of the renowned British production The Wandering Jew.

The pensioner, whose wife died three months ago, kept the bulk of his stock - worth thousands of pounds - in a two-storey building about 40ft from his semi-detached house in Hill Lane.

He was in bed when the blaze broke out.

Daily Echo:

He said: "I heard a load of shouting and banging and initially thought it was the people next door having a party. Then I realised it was people banging on my door to get me out.

"I've lost them (the films). That's it. Finished. And I can't do anything about it."

The blaze sent a huge plume of orange smoke into the sky, resulting in people living nearby being urged to keep their doors and windows shut.

The pensioner used to run a film business which is said to have ceased trading in 2012.

A review on social media, written by someone who visited the premises, says: "I have never seen such a collection of films and projectors. His house, garage and outbuildings were stacked with all things cine."

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) sent crews from across the county to tackle the blaze, which broke out at around 6pm on Monday.

Daily Echo:

Firefighters spent the night and most of yesterday at the scene as smoke continued to billow from the outbuilding.

HFRS group manager Mick Thompson said: "The fire involves a private collection of cine film. There's an awful lot of it and we don't know how much history has been lost.

"We can't access the building because the roof has collapsed. The fire will burn itself out, with our help."

Road closures were put in place after the fire started. Hill Lane was open again yesterday but part of it was reduced to a single carriageway, resulting in long queues in both directions during the rush-hour.

Last night a man living nearby said: "The blaze began yesterday evening and I was surprised to see it was still going this morning.

"I was sitting in the lounge when I noticed the smell of smoke and saw blue lights in the street outside."

A resident in another part of the city tweeted: "It's super smoky and smells like fire even in Ocean Village. The smell's noticeable in my flat as well."