Unexploded WW1 shell discovered in old school grounds

THIRTY homes were evacuated and a road closed after an unexploded World War I anti-aircraft shell was discovered in the grounds of a former school. The shell was found within the grounds of the old St Andrews Lower School in Rose Lane, Biggleswade on Mond

THIRTY homes were evacuated and a road closed after an unexploded World War I anti-aircraft shell was discovered in the grounds of a former school.

The shell was found within the grounds of the old St Andrews Lower School in Rose Lane, Biggleswade on Monday shortly after 3pm by workmen digging a trench.

The school buildings have been converted into flats.

Police evacuated around 100 residents from the old school buildings, known as Claremont Court, and from Barnett Close.


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Rose Lane was closed to through traffic and residents advised to stay at the rear of their properties, although a crowd gathered around the side of Rose Lane car park to watch the drama unfolding.

RAF bomb disposal experts from RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire arrived at about 6pm and spent over two hours examining and X-raying the device.

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Police said that if it had been decided to carry out a controlled explosion at the site, more people would have been evacuated and train services on the nearby railway line disrupted as a 200m cordon would have been needed.

But the RAF disposal team eventually decided to remove the shell and it was driven away on a van at around 8.15pm.

As a precautionary measure the RAF unit also made a thorough search of the trench where the bomb was unearthed and found no further evidence of any explosives.

A spokesman at RAF Wittering said the device had been identified as a World War 1 anti-aircraft shell and even though it contained explosives there was no fuse to trigger an explosion.

After further examination the shell will be destroyed by a controlled explosion.

One Rose Lane resident said: "When I came home there was a police van at the entrance to Rose Lane car park and there was a police officer over the corner of the car park.

"I thought there'd been an accident.

"Then I spoke to my neighbours and asked them what was going on and they said 'there's a bomb in the car park'.

"I was a little bit anxious but when nobody came to say we'd got to evacuate I felt that obviously the situation was under control.

"I was amazed that it hadn't been found before with all the building work they'd been doing over there.

"I was thinking about all the children that have been to school over there, running around in the playground with that underneath.

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