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Saturday, 27 December 2014

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Army blows up World War Two shell found in Carlisle

An army bomb disposal team was called in to blow up a World War Two shell found in the grounds of Carlisle’s Trinity School.

Builders from Border Construction stumbled across the 18lb high-explosive device on Saturday morning.

One of them, unaware of what it was, picked it up to show site engineer Mark Carruthers, a former corporal in the Royal Marines who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr Carruthers, 34, said: “I knew what I was it looking at. It was an anti-vehicle or anti-tank device, cylindrical, about 12in long with a charge at one end.

“It was a bit of a heart-stopping moment but I’ve been close to things like this before.

“I put it down in a safe place, cordoned it off and called the police. It was vigilant of the lads to spot it.”

A Royal Logistics Corps bomb disposal team from Catterick rushed to the scene.

They used a robot to load the shell into a blast-proof box then took it in the back of a van to a playing field behind Newman School where they carried out a controlled explosion at 3pm.

Nobody was injured.

A sergeant from the team, who did not give his name for security reasons, praised Mr Carruthers’ actions.

He said: “He definitely did the right thing. Anyone who finds something that looks like unexploded ordnance should call the police.

“This was an 18lb high-explosive shrapnel shell. It’s designed to kill.

“You definitely wouldn’t want to be near it when it goes off.”

He said the shell was British and probably dated from World War Two.

It was under what had been a playing field, near the Creighton Building, which was used as a tip in the 1950s.

The shell was probably dumped there then.

Latterly, Border Construction has used the field as a compound for the £20 million redevelopment of Trinity School. Workmen were excavating the site to create a car park when the shell was unearthed one metre below the surface.

A digger lifted it into a dumper truck where it was spotted.

Police sealed off the area and closed the zero path, between Dukes Road and Strand Road, as a precaution.

They also ordered Cubby Construction staff working at Carlisle College nearby to move away.

Inspector Tim Ward, of Cumbria police, said: “We weren’t sure what we were dealing with but thought it was probably a World War Two shell.

“Our priority was to protect the public.”

Soon after, officers made the decision to evacuate Trinity Leisure Centre in Strand Road.

Linus Oultram, of Silloth, had been swimming there with his wife Rachael and their three-month-old son Aidan.

He said: “Somebody said there was a bomb scare. I thought it was one of those security alerts when they find a bag or a box and don’t know whose it is.

“Then I heard it was an actual shell and thought it was time we got out.”

No residential property was evacuated but police closed St Aidan’s Road, and Victoria Place between Lismore Place and Warwick Road, while the controlled explosion was carried out.

Claire Hayman, 24, a former pupil of Trinity School, was walking near the River Eden when she heard a loud bang and saw a thin plume of black smoke.

She said: “I’m shocked. It’s amazing to think it was buried at Trinity.

“I’ve played on the field where they found it. It could have gone off at any time I suppose.”

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