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BombRisk Update - New Year, Old Bombs

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Ahh, the New Year.  “2022” just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?  It seems like 2022 is going to be a wonderful year.  Then again, 2020 looked like a wonderful year – the start of a new decade – and look how that turned out.

Anyway – a lot of things change in the New Year – but one thing remains consistent: there are bombs in the UK waiting to be found.  It’s been almost a month since our last BombRisk Update and plenty or items of ordnance have been found since then.  Clearly, bombs do not take a Christmas break.

Cannonball – run!

Finding unexploded ordnance (UXO) on your construction site might surprise you (though it’s more common than you may imagine).  Finding three or four items of UXO on your site would be much more uncommon.  But what if you found two-hundred items of UXO on your construction site?

Well, that’s exactly what happened on a site on Swynnerton Road near Stoke-on-Trent.

You may ask “What were the 200 items of UXO?” (and, even if you didn’t ask, we’re going to tell you anyway!) They were World War II-era cannon rounds.  You may also ask “What were a cluster of cannon rounds doing in Swynnerton?” – to which we also have an answer…

Well – kind of.  It’s more of a highly likely educated guess, to be honest.  You see, there was a Royal Ordnance Factory in Swynnerton which was built in 1939 and operated until 1958.  In said factory, shells were filled with gunpowder to be utilised during the war. This factory is now called the Swynnerton Training Camp and is run by the Defence Training Estate.

It is likely that these shells were dumped following the end of the war.  At the time, this was considered the simplest solution for disposing of ordnance.  Today, we know that UXO can remain dangerous – and become increasingly unstable – despite the passing of time.

If you’ve read a BombRisk report before – you know what happens next.  We cut a long story short – so, the police were contacted (which is the correct thing to do) and the shells were destroyed by the British Army. 

The rounds were reportedly damp and unlikely to detonate, but still posed a potentially lethal threat.

Big up the bomb squad

We’ve covered magnet fishing before on BombRisk. If you’re out of the loop – magnet fishing is fishing… but with a magnet! Essentially, you put a powerful magnet on the end of a piece of string, chuck it in a river or canal, and see what metal you can pick up.

Lots of exciting things can be found whilst magnet fishing, such as coins, bicycles, and safes.  Some people sell the scrap metal, but for most enthusiasts there are two main purposes to magnet fishing: environmentalism and treasure hunting.  However, magnet fishing can also be a magnet for (get it?) UXO and we really don’t recommend it.

One schoolboy in Lancashire wanted nothing more for Christmas than a magnet fishing set – and Santa delivered! He went with his grandad to try it out.  They managed to find a variety of metal items such as an old anchor and several hammerheads.

What they did not expect to find was a World War One bombshell.  They brought it home, unsure of what to do with it, before a neighbour recommended contacting the police (someone’s been reading BombRisk!)

The bomb squad arrived around midnight and disposed of the bomb – but not before giving the young boy a tour of their bomb disposal vehicle and explaining to him how they work.  What an unforgettable Christmas! 

It’ll be a fantastic story to tell his schoolfriends and a great lesson on UXO safety from the brilliant bomb squad.

Quick fire summary

To round things off, here are a few quickfire mini-BombRisk Updates that didn’t make the cut:

  • A street was cordoned off in Blaby, Leicestershire, after potential UXO (pUXO) was discovered.
  • A 105mm unexploded bomb was found on St. Bee’s Beach in Cumbria. Although it was heavily corroded, it still posed a threat and was safely disposed of by the Army EOD team.
  • A WWII bomb was discovered near Eckington Bridge in Worcestershire – a controlled detonation was subsequently performed.
  • A couple in West Derby, Liverpool, found two WWII incendiary bombs stashed in their attic in a Dinky Rolls bread packet (yes, seriously). It was accompanied by a note from the previous owner explaining that they were from a 1941 air raid.  The Merseyside Police evacuated the house and subsequently dealt with the ordnance.
  • A suspected shell was found in a Tewkesbury car park, resulting in the Royal Logistic Corps’ Bomb Disposal Squad being called.
  • A magnet fisherman in Leicester discovered a mortar bomb in the local river, causing the area to be cordoned off.
  • A boy who received a metal detector for Christmas discovered a WWII-era bomb in Cumbria.

That’s all folks!

As always, there’s one major takeaway from all of this: UXO can be found anywhere, and it is DANGEROUS. Be it in rivers, the ocean, in your loft, or on your construction site – it is important to always stay wary.

If you are planning to perform any intrusive works (such as piling) it is important to know how likely you are to discover UXO on your site and then take any required action to save money, time, and most importantly: lives.

To discover the likelihood of your site being contaminated with UXO, order your BombRisk report today. 

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