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'I'm expecting a wide range of visitors. A lot of people are fascinated by baked beans'.

Byline: By ROBIN TURNER Western Mail

The world's only museum dedi-cated to the culinary delights of the humble baked bean has been opened - in a Port Talbot council flat. Eccentric veteran parliamentary candidate and fundraiser Captain Beany has filled his two-bedroom, second-floor flat on the Aberavon seafront with shelves full of tins of beans, memorabilia, bean money-boxes and posters.

Every day for the past two decades the bald-headed former BP Chemicals factory worker has donned orange face and head paint, a cape, green pants and an orange jumpsuit to become his alter ego, Captain Beany.

After his 'beanmobile' rusted so badly it was towed away by Neath Port Talbot Council staff some years ago he has travelled by bus, arousing plenty of stares.

Last month, however, he bought an aging Mini Metro with the number plate H57 (reminiscent of Heinz 57) for pounds 47 on eBay.

It inspired him to turn his flat into 'The Baked Bean Museum of Excellence'.

The shelves of the museum, which sit on orange carpets, surrounded by bright orange wallpaper, broken up only by orange curtains and the odd photograph of beans, contain hundreds of exhibits.

The shelves are dominated by a low, bright orange ceiling.

The exhibits range from tins of Heinz beans (bought from a supermarket because Heinz refused to donate them) to money boxes in the shape of baked beans to American Boston Beans sweets and bean-shaped mugs.

Captain Beany, who changed his name from plain Barry Kirk by deed poll in the 1980s said yesterday, 'I have scoured the worldwide web and made hundreds of telephone inquiries.

'Nowhere else in the world is there a baked bean museum.

'Even Heinz, which used to have a showroom in its Pittsburgh factory does not have one any more after company changes.

'It's a private museum but anyone can visit by e-mailing the museum on

'I've spent quite a bit on acquiring items. Although the tins of beans are quite cheap I had to part with pounds 250 for a die-cast model of a Heinz Bean lorry.

'There are some bean money-boxes which are valuable too and a number of the bean posters are very rare.'

Captain Beany, who has a long list of TV appearances on shows such as Strangest Ever Obsessions (Five), the Linda Lusardi-fronted It's Bizarre (Channel Four) and Great British Eccentrics (BBC World), is hoping a celebrity will officially open the museum.

He has been trying to contact opera singer Katherine Jenkins to 'do the honours' but yesterday the star's agent remained tightlipped when asked by the Western Mail if she would be prepared to do it.

Captain Beany said, 'I think my favourite exhibit is the 2ft-tall bean money-box. I've got a wide range of tins from HP, Bush's from the USA to supermarket brands, and I also have a clock advertising a brand of baked beans.'

Captain Beany is not concerned that his council landlords might raise an eyebrow at the new venture. He said, 'It's not commercial and there are no structural alternations, just shelves all over the place. I'm going to ask people when they come if they want to make a donation to charity.

'I'm expecting to get a wide range of people in. There are lots of people out there fascinated by baked beans.'

Captain Beany plans to stand in the Cardiff Central constituency during this year's parliamentary elections. He said, 'I normally stand in Aberavon but I've decided to go for the big boys.'

Captain Beany has never kept his deposit.: Bean around:Modern baked beans were first created by Henry J Heinz in the US in 1895. The Iroquois Indians developed maple syrup which they used to cook beans in but European settlers used meat then tomato sauces;

The first cans of baked beans were made in Britain in 1928;

1.2 million cans are eaten every week in the UK;

Baked beans are low in fat and are full of protein and fibre;

They also provide important vitamins and minerals, including iron, folic acid, zinc and potassium;

Research done in the USA found that the nutrients found in many vegetables, fruits, and red wine are also found in the skin of beans;

Australian cricketer Shane Warne is a self-confessed baked bean addict and soccer star Alan Shearer always eats chicken and baked beans before matches;

January 6 is national bean day in America;

The average British person eats more than 15lbs of beans each year; In 2002 Heinz chefs came up with the perfect formula for cooking baked beans which recommends cooking the beans at 147F (64C).
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 26, 2005
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