Norfolk

Vickers WW1 gun bought for £1k 'now worth nothing'

Robert Tilney with the Vickers
Image caption Gun expert Robert Tilney was excited to find a Vickers machine gun from 1917

A man who bought a World War One machine gun 20 years ago for £1,000 has been told it is now worthless by BBC Antiques Roadshow experts.

John Needham, 73, said he and his wife "lived on Ryvita for a month" after he bought the 1917 Vickers gun.

He took it to the show on Cromer Pier, Norfolk, where gun expert Robert Tilney said it made him "the happiest man".

But he said it was worth "precisely nothing" because it was "not up to the current deactivation standard".

Image caption John Needham, 73, bought the Vickers gun for about £1,000

Speaking afterwards, Mr Needham disputed the valuation and said he believed alterations to the gun could make it worth more than £5,000.

The Vickers was a water-cooled gun with a range of 4,500 yards (4,100m) which was adopted by the British Army as its standard machine gun in 1912. It could fire up to 500 rounds per minute.

Mr Needham, from Cromer, said: "I think the Ministry of Defence started releasing them from stores about 20 years ago, and I was watching them rapidly rise in price, so I thought I'll get one while they're reasonable.

"So I was quite pleased to get her [but] my wife was not over the moon."

Image caption BBC One's Antiques Roadshow went to Cromer Pier in Norfolk last summer

Mr Tilney delivered his verdict on the show, filmed last summer.

He told Mr Needham: "You've paid £1,000 for your Vickers heavy machine gun, money well spent in my opinion - it is now worth precisely nothing.

"It has no value because it is not up to the current deactivation standard - you can't even give it to somebody."

Mr Needham said: "I love her because there's history there - I'm not caring about the money at all."

Image caption The Vickers was a 250-round, water-cooled gun with a range of 4,500 yards (4,100m) which was adopted by the British Army as its standard machine gun in 1912

The Police and Crime Act 2017 forbids the sale, swap, gifting or inheritance of any firearms deactivated before April 2016 within the European Union.

Mr Needham said he hoped the law would change before he had to think about further work on the gun.

Antiques Roadshow is broadcast on BBC One at 20:00 BST.

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