The sword was spotted in a knife amnesty bin. Courtesy HMS Warrior
Saved from destruction in the jaws of a metal crusher, a 170-year-old sword that would once have belonged to a Royal Navy Officer is to be given a fitting resting place on board HMS Warrior at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
The sword was spared the fate of hundreds of other blades handed in during a national knife amnesty, when it was recognised it as a valuable item by a Naval history enthusiast.
It was handed into Cheshire Police, where Police Press Officer Alan Ingram spotted it in the property store at Crewe Police Station.
“It was in a dustbin along with a load of other swords,” said Alan, “which had come in during the amnesty and were bound for the crusher. I noticed the lion’s head pommel and the crown and fouled anchor motif on the hand guard of this one and thought it looked a bit special.”
“When I pulled the sword out of the heap the little brass stud at the top of the blade was clear. The meant the blade had been tested and ‘proved’ at the Royal Armouries.”
“Naval history is an interest of mine,” he said, “so I knew I was holding a 19th century Royal Navy Officer’s sword.”
Further research found that the sword was of the 1827 pattern, dating it to between then and 1845.
The sword with the interesting provenance will now reside in an officer's cabin. Courtesy HMS Warrior
It will now go on show as part of the fittings and equipment in one of the officer’s cabins on board HMS Warrior, Britain’s first iron-hulled battleship, which is preserved at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. It will be presented to the ship on August 23 2006, thanks to Alan’s commitment to seeing it go to a worthy home.
He explained: “It just seemed wrong that something made by a craftsman nearly 200 years ago and which had seen service on the decks of Britain’s sailing Navy should end its days like that.”
“I checked that if it went to somewhere secure we would be complying with the terms of the amnesty, and then thought about the best place for the sword to go to,” he said.
The knife amnesty took tens of thousands of potential weapons out of circulation, with police forces charged with the task of disposing of them in a way that would prevent them getting into the hands of anyone who might use them violently. Nearly all of them were destroyed.
“I’ve visited the Warrior several times and know how much people enjoy seeing what life was like in the Victorian Navy,” continued Alan. “Most of her officers when she was first commissioned would have carried swords exactly like this one, so Warrior seemed an ideal home for it. I’m sure whoever handed in the sword during the amnesty would agree.”
HMS Warrior’s Chief Executive, Ken Jones, commented: “From an unusual source, this sword is an interesting addition to out collection of Victorian naval artefacts.”