Storing up guilty treasures

The self storage industry is booming in the UK - over the past decade the business model crossed the Atlantic and has quickly developed in to a thriving industry sector with more than 700 units nationwide.

In the US, a staggering 57,000 self storage centres offer an average seven square metres of space per person. In the UK, it's a more reasonable 0.4 square  metres and growing - with France and Germany hot on our heels.  - pyramid

The theory is the richer a nation, the more self storage space that is required.

Why exactly? Well, a lot of self storage is built around two factors - need and guilt.

As society becomes more mobile, with people moving around for work and having less permanent community roots, they need somewhere to keep their stuff. This especially applies to students and others taking the year off to travel. More and more youngsters live in rented homes and have nowhere to put their belongings and furntiure while they are away.

Then there's gran and grandad. As families are richer and have all the furniture and possessions they want or need, when elderly relatives die, just what do you do with all that stuff wreathed in sentiment and nostalgia that is too good to throw away and may just be worth something or come in useful one day?

Pile everything up in a self storage unit and push the guilt to the back of your mind of course.

The modern self storage industry may have started in the US - but the suspicion is the practise is a lot older.

What about the pharaohs of Egyptian times? The pyramids were the world's first self storage units as the incoming ruler stacked the previous king's prized possessions away out of sight and out of mind just like we do with gran and grandad's stuff.

Who says history doesn't keep repeating - and will archaeologists be digging up self storage centres in 5,000 years time and trying to make sense of the ritual packing up of our lives in the 21st century?