Filed under ‘B’ for bomb? Museum makes an explosive discovery in its archive

PUBLISHED: 11:34 23 October 2012 | UPDATED: 12:25 23 October 2012

An artist's impression of what the bombs might have looked like on a shelf in the museum archive.

An artist's impression of what the bombs might have looked like on a shelf in the museum archive.


A museum that filed away a box labelled “bomb” six years ago had to call in explosive experts after it discovered three Dad’s Army-style home-made grenades languishing in its archives.

Bishop Bonner's cottage in Dereham Bishop Bonner's cottage in Dereham

The drama started on Tuesday afternoon last week when volunteers from Bishop Bonner’s Cottage museum in Dereham were sorting through items held in storage on the industrial estate on Rash’s Green.

After opening the box they found three clay balls, about 3in across and with what looked like wicks sticking out of them, which they believe date back to the first world war.

Bob Davies, vice-chairman of Dereham Antiquarian Society, said: “The folks were going through the archives and found this box which has written on the side ‘bomb’. There were three clay balls inside.

“They contacted me and I said if you are worried I will take them home. I had a word with the police who said ‘Whatever you do, don’t touch it’.

“Half an hour later two police turned up at the door and they said can we have a look and I said ‘certainly’.

“They took one look and said ‘We are not going to touch that’ and called the bomb disposal at Colchester.”

One officer remained at his home while they waited for experts from the Ministry of Defence’s explosive ordnance department, who arrived at 6.50pm.

Mr Davies said: “Two chaps came and had a look and said ‘We have never seen anything like that before’. He moved a bit of the wick and some black powder came out so he went out and put a match to it and whoosh... so he said ‘I will take them back to Colchester and we will have some fun with them’.”

A police spokesman said the devices were identified as three home-made grenades, which the bomb disposal experts made safe and removed.

The Ministry of Defence refused to reveal any details of the devices.

Mr Davies said: “I was not particularly worried because they were black powder and needed a detonator.

“They were just put in the archive for the time being and forgotten about.”

He added that the explosive experts were so impressed with the grenades that they will find a new home in the bomb disposal unit’s museum.

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