SANTA has come early for delighted bosses at an historic ship.
A festive present last seen in public more than 20 years ago has been presented to HMS Trincomalee in Hartlepool.
The replica 18lb long gun is one of only two of its type ever created, and has been sitting on top of a Seaton Carew bedroom cupboard for 20 years.
But it has now been handed back to the ship based at Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience.
Ship officials are so pleased with the donation, they are planning to put it on display from next week.
Delighted HMS Trincomalee Trust general manager David McKnight said: “It is a lovely piece of work, especially as it is made out of the ship’s original teak.”
The model of the gun was made by Mike Clark who was an apprentice on the ship during its restoration programmes.
In his spare time, he made the gun in 1991 and a fellow apprentice made a matching one.
David said: “For some reason, a decision was taken that no more replicas would be made after that. The other one was given to the apprentice’s children and was used by them, but this one was kept for 20 years by Mike in pristine condition.
“I didn’t know anything about it until Mike brought it along to one of our recent boat and caravan jumble auctions. He told us he was going to put it up for auction unless we wanted it back.
“It was such a lovely piece, we have taken it from him and we are planning to put it on show, probably in the captain’s cabin from next week.”
Meanwhile, Santa was planning to be back at the Trincomalee from tomorrow to begin his 20-day stint in his grotto.
Children can visit him between 2pm and 4pm – with last entry at 3.45pm – each day from tomorrow until Christmas Eve.
The cost is £4 per child including a gift and anyone wanting more information, or wanting to book a Santa visit in advance, should contact (01429) 860077.