Blackpool Bomb Squad: watch the controlled explosion of a WW1 shell on St Annes beach

Share this article
0
Have your say

Video footage has been released of the controlled explosion of a WW1 shell on St Annes beach.

The device, which experts believe was a First World War-era 1lb shell, was found by metal detectorists Alistair Wilks, 51, and his Partner Kath Firth, 60, on Thursday afternoon.

The moment the device was detonated by the bomb squad.

The moment the device was detonated by the bomb squad.

"I got my sand scoop and hit it," Alistair said, "and couldn't believe my eyes when I had done that, because then I knew exactly what it was."

READ THE FULL STORY >>> Cordon in place as bomb squad arrives at Blackpool beach after unidentified metal object is dug up

The pair called the coastguard, who cordoned the shell off from the public on the Blackpool beach.

A spokesperson for the coastguard said: "We were fairly sure that it was not likely to go off by accident.

A member of the bomb squad tests the device.

A member of the bomb squad tests the device.

"Age can make explosives more volatile, or it can make them inert.

"But since this was a high explosive shell, it would have had a pound of explosives inside it when it was made, so we have to treat everything as a worst case, and set up a cordon to keep the public at a safe distance."

But once the bomb squad had arrived, the tide had started to come in, so the shell was moved to St Annes beach.

In the video, released on Thursday evening, members of the bomb squad can be seen standing well back from the shell.

The shell was badly rusted and damaged by seawater.

The shell was badly rusted and damaged by seawater.

Sandbags had been piled up over the top of the shell to minimise the blast and prevent dangerous shrapnel from being thrown over a wide area.

After a short wait, the shell is detonated with a loud pop, and the sandbags are thrown into the air along with a cloud of sand.

So how did it get on the beach in the first place?

- The British Army used to have a policy of disposing expired explosives at sea.

- Because of this, it is not uncommon for old shells to wash ashore.

- But this shell seems to have been buried two or three feet below the surface of the sand.

- It has been suggested that the beach may have been a training ground for military exercises, and that the unused shell was left behind - but this has not been confirmed.