A man who found a washed-up sea-mine on a beach and rolled it home to use as a footstool has been forced to hand it back to the Navy.

Stunned Joe Gray, 43, spotted the massive mine on rocks near his home in Penzance.

Joe runs a salvage yard and wanted to keep the device and make it the centrepiece of his quirky collection.

He used the mine to put his feet on and as a coffee table, and said it became part of the furniture.

Joe had been told by the Government’s Receiver of Wreck team that he could keep it if it was unclaimed after one year.

But Joe said his dreams of becoming its permanent owner were dashed when the Royal Navy visited him on Tuesday morning to reclaim it.

Joe said after finding it he called coastguards, who confirmed it was non-explosive and had come free after being used in a training exercise.

Joe, a self-confessed lover of all things ‘weird and wonderful’, then dragged the mine his salvage and reclamation yard, Shiver Me Timbers.

He added: “In this line of work, we’re always coming across weird and wonderful things – and I’d been on the hunt for a mine for a while.

“As soon as I heard a mine had washed up, I was so excited – I dropped what I was doing and came running.

“It isn’t to everyone’s taste, but when I saw it, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Joe Gray had used the mine as a footstool and seat before it was collected Picture: SWNS

Joe Gray had used the mine as a footstool and seat before it was collected Picture: SWNS

"It was such a thrilling find because it looks so striking.

“Obviously I didn’t go anywhere near it until I knew it was safe – but as soon as I knew what I was dealing with, I couldn’t wait to get it back to the shop.

“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.”

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

In that time it was used as a seat, a footstool and even a coffee table but a representative from the Navy arrived to remove it on Tuesday morning and took it away in the back of a van.

He had planned to convert it into a unique stove, or alternatively have it as a piece of artwork on display in his shop.

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

"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.

"I actually received loads of requests from people offering to buy it from me, so clearly I'm not the only one who wanted to keep it.

“Who knows, maybe another mine will wash up one day – I'm still hoping one day I'll get my hands on one I can keep."

Coastguards told him 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.

He said the mine would have once have had ‘INERT’ painted across it, before it was worn off by the sea. After it 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 had hoped to keep the sea mine Picture: SWNS

Joe had hoped to keep the sea mine Picture: SWNS

He said: “After I knew it was safe, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

“I love beach-combing because of moments like that – it was such a thrilling moment when I saw it.

“Even knowing it was safe, it was very exciting because of that characteristic striking look – everyone knows what a mine looks like.

"All in all, this has just been a regular week for me really; every day we find weird and wonderful things.

"In this trade, there's always another weird salvage adventure around the corner, so I wonder what will pop up next.

“But if you take one thing away, let it be this: don’t approach anything suspicious until you know exactly what it is.

“Just because this one was inert, doesn’t mean they all are so don’t just go dragging random mines into your home.”

The Royal Navy has been contacted for comment.