Beachcomber forced to hand over washed-up sea mine he used as footstool to Navy

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·4 min read
Joe Gray found a washed-up sea-mine on a beach and rolled it home to use as a footstool. (SWNS)
Joe Gray found a washed-up sea-mine on a beach and rolled it home to use as a footstool. (SWNS)

A man who rolled a washed-up sea mine he found at the beach to his home to use as a footstool has been forced to give it back to the Navy.

Joe Gray, 43, who runs salvage yard Shiver Me Timbers, spotted the massive mine on rocks near his home in Penzance, Cornwall, and wanted it as the centrepiece of his quirky collection.

After rolling it home he used the mine to put his feet on and as a coffee table and said it became part of the furniture.

Coastguards confirmed the device was non-explosive and had come free after being used in a training exercise.

Gray said he was able to proudly display the mine in his yard, and even in his home, for just under two weeks.

Joe Gray spotted the massive mine on rocks near his home in Penzance, Cornwall. (SWNS)
Joe Gray spotted the massive mine on rocks near his home in Penzance, Cornwall. (SWNS)

In that time it was used as a seat, a footstool, a coffee table and he had planned to convert it into a unique stove, or alternatively have it as a piece of artwork on display in his shop.

Gray had been told by the government’s Receiver of Wreck team that he could keep it if it was unclaimed after one year but representative from the Royal Navy arrived to remove it on Tuesday morning and took it away in the back of a van.

He said: “I thought if I could keep it, I might have it turned into a unique stove or a piece of artwork, but that wasn’t to be because the Navy wanted it back.

“I’ll just have to hope another one washes up.”

He added: “I’m disappointed, but not really surprised that they wanted it back.

Coastguards confirmed the device was non-explosive and had come free after being used in a training exercise. (SWNS)
Coastguards confirmed the device was non-explosive and had come free after being used in a training exercise. (SWNS)

"It was sad that they took it back, but as long as it doesn't end up in the scrap heap, then I'm happy.

"It was fun while it lasted – it was a great experience actually going out and finding the mine.

Speaking of the moment he discovered the mine, Gray – a self-confessed lover of all things “weird and wonderful” – said: “As soon as I heard a mine had washed up, I was so excited – I dropped what I was doing and came running.

Joe Gray runs salvage yard Shiver Me Timbers in Cornwall. (SWNS)
Joe Gray runs salvage yard Shiver Me Timbers in Cornwall. (SWNS)

“It isn’t to everyone’s taste, but when I saw it, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was such a thrilling find because it looks so striking.”

Coastguards told Gray the mine contained no explosives because it had originally been tethered to the sea bed as part of a Royal Navy training exercise in Plymouth, several months back.

After the mine had broken free from its tethering, it was believed to have been swept around in the bay for several days before settling on the rocks.

Joe Gray used the mine as a seat, a footstool, a coffee table and he had planned to convert it into a unique stove. (SWNS)
Joe Gray used the mine as a seat, a footstool, a coffee table and he had planned to convert it into a unique stove. (SWNS)

After the mine was taken away, Gray said that “there's always another weird salvage adventure around the corner”, adding: “I wonder what will pop up next.”

A Royal Navy spokesperson told Yahoo News UK that the mine "was a training mine and is property of the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

They added: "All training mines used in the UK are inert and pose no danger to the public or the marine environment.

It is a rare occurrence for training mines to break away from their moorings.

"While this mine proved to be inert, not all ordnance that washes up onto the UK mainland is and therefore we would wish to encourage the public not to interact with it and report anything that they think is suspicious to the appropriate authorities to then allow us as the experts to assess its safety and dispose of it appropriately."

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