HMS ‘Victory’s mainmast has a story of its own to tell, making all the more historically important than its pride of place in the great ship. Though it looks wooden, it isn’t at all – it’s actually iron clad in wood to give it that Nelsonian era look. This mast actually comes from HMS ‘Shah’, which has a distinction all its own, being the first RN warship to fire a torpedo. Nelson looking down must have thought “Now, I and my Band of Brothers cold have made good use of that in the pell-mell battle” (the great Admiral’s characteristically cool description of his relentless, battle-winning tactics.) Of course, combining wood with iron is not the greatest idea in terms of rust and rot, making the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s task in preserving it a real challenge.