A MARITIME historian is on cloud nine after he has finally finished his model of the HMS Victory which he started working on about 50 years ago.

Michael Byard, 80, who lives in Long Wittenham near Didcot, he started working on the replica when he was working for a shipping company in Australia.

He bought a book containing detailed plans for the model in 1969, and made a start on the ship a few years later in 1972 before moving back to the UK with his wife only 18 months later – and taking the model ship with him.

However, almost half a century passed before the maritime historian took the model out of storage, dusted it off and completed it.

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Mr Byard said: “Moving to a new house then working in London, then children came along, life got in the way – really it is as simple as that.

“When I was 74 my daughter said, ‘it is about time you finished that model dad’.

“So, I decided then and there to finish it.”

His daughter Anni Byard, an Oxfordshire archaeologist, posted a picture of her dad's finished model on Twitter where it got more than 14,000 likes.

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He said: “I’m gobsmacked... some of the comments I have had are absolutely fantastic.

“I think the icing on the cake for me certainly was having a tweet from the The First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin, who said that he was very impressed with what I had done and that I had done Victory proud.

“That really got to me because that is the most senior naval officer in the land.”

Oxford Mail:

The real HMS Victory at Portsmouth.

Mr Byard explained that the model is 95 per cent accurate and said that he is not a professional model maker.

He said: “It is something I started because I liked the ship when I first saw her in 1956, it is something that has stuck in my mind ever since.”

Mr Byard has always been interested in ships, working in shipping, in the Royal Australian Reserve and as a maritime historian.

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The original HMS Victory, which took part in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, is now at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

His finished model is 4ft 11in (1.25m) long, 14in (35cm) wide and 26in (66cm) tall.

Mr Byard has planned to display his model in his conservatory at home in Long Wittenham. He said his archaeologist daughter has found a model of a small cannon from the same era and her partner has found a Georgian table for the model ship to be displayed on.

The model ship builder said: “I’m over the moon. I didn’t realise that something I’ve been enjoying doing would have such resonance all over the world.”