They may be dreaded by motorists but there is nothing that warms David Morgan's heart like a traffic cone.

Or, indeed, 500 of them - which Britain's very own coneman has collected at his west Oxfordshire home.

Mr Morgan, 64, sales director for a plastics company, is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the owner of the largest collection of road cones in the world, a haul that would put any drunken student to shame.

And while he admits his hobby is an unusual one, he insists it all makes perfect sense.

Mr Morgan's employer, Oxford Plastic Systems, based at Enstone Business Park, is the world's largest producer of the cones. And his collection is the result of a fascination with the finer points of their design.

"It's really interesting," he said. "There are so many different shapes, sizes and colours. And the models are always changing."

Mr Morgan, who lives in Fulbrook, near Burford, began the collection in 1986, while involved in a legal dispute with a rival manufacturer over the design of a cone. Mr Morgan scoured the country for cones, to prove the design had existed previously, and won the case.

He said: "A competitor wanted to take us to court because they said we had copied their design. So I started collecting cones - and I haven't been able to stop.

"I'll find out where the roadworks are and go and look for them. But the best ones are from more unusual places, like village halls and from undertakers - who always have different ones, and look after them.

"Everywhere I go, I collect them, but I always take new ones with me and swap them. I would never pinch one, as they're a safety product. I usually ask the foreman, but people aren't really bothered, and most of the cones I get have been stuck on their own for years - sometimes 15 years after the roadworks have finished."

He said his prize possession was a 1956 Lynvale rubber cone from Scotland - the oldest item in the collection.

He is also proud of his international acquisitions - including a Malaysian cone, found washed up on a beach in the Scilly Islands, and a rare 1980 Adapterform model, which he picked up at the airport while on honeymoon on the island of Corsica in 1988.

But the 'Holy Grail' of cones has so far eluded him.

"I am still looking for a rare five-sided cone from Manchester," he said. "I hear about sightings, but by the time I get there, they've gone. It's like looking for Elvis."

His daughter Poppy, 17, a sixth-former at Burford School, said: "It's a brilliant collection and very unusual. I've certainly never heard of anyone else collecting cones.

"I'm not a particular fan of cones, but it's something to tell my friends - and they're all impressed.

She added: "If I see a new cone I'll always tell him where it is - though I wouldn't bring it back myself."

Asked what his wife Breda thought of his unusual hobby, he said: "She's used to it. I have been collecting them since she met me, so it's nothing unusual.

"Admittedly, mowing the lawn is difficult when they're out in the garden, but usually they're stacked in the garage, in subdued lighting, to preserve them."