Part of Blackpool was evacuated and sealed off for more than four hours after shocked workers stumbled across First World War bomb shells.
Teams of contractors working on behalf of Blackpool Council at the former Blundell Street car park, were forced to down tools after making the frightening discovery at 9.15am yesterday.
Police evacuated Blundell Street along with the nearby Blackpool Transport depot before setting up a cordon from the bottom of Rigby Road to the Promenade.
After four hours and checks by bomb disposal experts from the Royal Logistics Corps, the fire service, firearms officers and a local historian the site was deemed safe and the cordon was lifted.
Historian Tony Sharkey, from Blackpool Central library was also brought to the scene by police to see if the discovery had any historical importance.
He said: “They are clearly First World War shell casings that are causing no safety concerns whatsoever.
“To a novice who didn’t know what they were unearthing, as many casing as this would have been very scary.
“With the help of another local historian called Brian Turner I discovered that on this site there used to be a munitions factory, which used to make the shell casings before sending them to another site to be filed with ammunition.
“I was shocked when the police asked me to come down, before my research I would have never of said these shell casings would be discovered here. There isn’t really any historical significance with the find but all this has made my day very exciting.”
Spectators stood at the cordon said they were shocked and worried to hear what was going on. Paige Williams, 21, of Foxhall Road, Blackpool said: “I go to college here on Rigby Road and when I saw all this going on this morning I was really scared.
“I had no idea it was a bomb scare, gosh I have to walk home that way.”
Sue Whiteley, 30, of Cheltenham Road, Blackpool said: “It really is shocking. I was frozen in fear when I found out.
“You just don’t expect something like this to effect you or life. It’s scary especially as they are planning to build houses on there.”
Paul Hayton, 42, of Queen Street, Blackpool said: “I’m surprised. I walk my dog along here all the time and I’ve never heard of anything like this along here. You’d think the council would know the history of the land and if there was a possibility of something like this being found.”
Blackpool Transport’s Rigby Road office was evacuated as a precaution shortly after 11.15am although the adjacent depot still ran as normal.
The company had feared it would have to shut the tramway system down, but was given permission to allow one staff member to continue using its radio room by police throughout the scare, meaning services were unaffected.
Trevor Roberts, managing director of Blackpool Transport, said: “We were evacuated out of the main building but the depot has still been operating.
“There were certainly a few police in the hole, but they scampered back out fairly quickly. I don’t think they wanted to take a chance.”
Police left the site shortly before 1.30pm.
The shell casings will now be buried underground instead of being removed from the site to prevent any future scares. A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “Police were called to the car park on Blundell Street at around 9:15am yesterday by workmen who were carrying out some excavation work of some cellars which are located under the actual car park.
“The men have found what appears to be war time shells and for that reason the area was evacuated, along with the nearby Blackpool Transport depot. Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) officers attended the scene.
“The incident was quickly stood down after it was discovered the war time shells located by contractors had never been filled with explosives.”
Coun Gillian Campbell, Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Housing, said: “It was important that this was properly checked out by the police and by lunchtime the contractors were able to continue their work on the site.”