North Yorkshire litter-pickers take ‘frothing’ World War I bomb on a half-mile car journey – including over speed bumps – thinking it was a gas canister
Little-pickers drove half-a-mile home with a live World War One bomb they had dug up while cleaning the local river, thinking it was an old gas canister.
Rachel Wills and Simon Briscombe had decided to do the good deed of cleaning up their neighbourhood, collected rubbish from the banks of the River Nidd in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.
The pair thought it was a Monday like any other, hiking down from their family-owned Watermill cafe to the river where they clean up rubbish every week.
‘On our weekly litter picks we’ve found some really strange things, including a sewing machine from 1898, trolleys, money, shoes, all sorts,’ said Rachel.
‘But I can’t believe we found what we found…and it was live.’
Unbeknown to the couple, recent floods were thought to have dislodged the bomb and brought it to the surface of the river, they later said.
It was sitting on the riverbank when the weather improved, looking to the unsuspecting couple like a disused gas canister washed up by the water flow.
A couple took home a World War One bomb after a half-mile bumpy ride thinking it was a gas canister. They collect rubbish from the banks of the River Nidd every Monday to help their community, but soon found themselves accidentally putting them all in danger
The unexploded World War One bomb (pictured) mistaken for a gas canister was bubbling by the time the couple cleaned it and called emergency services
None the wiser, they nestled the 2ft long bomb – caked in mud – in the back seat of the car, then drove home, hitting speed bumps and jolting past shops and playgrounds on the half-mile trip.
It was only when they got home and ‘scraped the gunk’ off that they realised what they had found.
‘It was actually frothing – the bomb was bubbling,’ said Rachel, who said she and Simon were biting their nails after franticly calling 999. ‘It was strange and frightening.’
The couple nervously photographed the bomb, wrapped it inside sandbags and waited for police and firefighters.
Upon receiving the call, emergency services evacuated the couple’s home along with about 30 others on the estate.
They put in place a 100-metre cordon and called an Army explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team.
Confirming it was explosive, the team gingerly removed it so the professionals could take it away. The drama saw police close the busy A59 for two hours.
Local resident Piers Ballance shot footage showing the detonation in a field off the A59.
‘We saw several police officers and army personnel at the site of the detonation,’ he told The Stray Ferret, a Harrogate district news service. ‘The explosion surprised us all as we did not expect it to be as loud. We felt the shockwave go through us.’
Rachel said she had been ‘tired, shocked and teary’ since the emergency.
‘It was so lucky children didn’t find it’, she added. ‘We had a narrow escape. Imagine if children had found it, picked it up and thrown it about. It’s unthinkable.’
The couple own the four-and-a-half star Watermill cafe which looks out over the river, with Facebook photos showing dogs playing in the water.
North Yorkshire Police said anyone who finds what could be a bomb should leave it in place without touching it, move 50 metres away and contact 101.
‘Thankfully, the EOD were able to dispose of the object, and the incident was brought to a safe conclusion,’ said the police in a statement. ‘Thank you to residents in the local area for their patience whilst we dealt with the incident.’
Emergency services evacuated the couple’s home along with about 30 others on the estate, putting in place a 100-metre cordon and calling an Army explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team who detonated the device safely. North Yorkshire Police said anyone who finds what could be a bomb should leave it in place without touching it, move 50 metres away and contact 101