Conwy resident finds spent 28lb practice bomb whilst digging in his garden

Spent 28lb practice bomb

On Easter Sunday, Dave Drew, 54, uncovered a metal item in his back garden. Mr Drew was excavating a trench to lay concrete in preparation for a summerhouse at his home in Trefriw. During the excavations, his spade struck a metallic item, at first he refused to believe it was potentially dangerous, telling North Wales Live “I’ve come across an old tractor engine as well as numerous items discarded by the blacksmith who used to work here”.

He continues, “my wife was worried it could be something more dangerous and she didn’t want it left in the garden, just 25ft from the front door”. Mr Drew, unsure of the item, turned to social media, where onlookers commented it looked like unexploded ordnance (UXO) and encouraged him to contact the police.  

Mr Drew then contacted the police and took photographs of the item, which was sent to the Joint Service Explosive Ordnance Disposal Operations Centre for investigation. Military bomb disposal operators informed Mr Drew that the item was potentially dangerous. There was no preliminary UXO risk assessment in place.

Military bomb disposal operators investigating site

The item was moved to a nearby rugby pitch, where a police officer guarded it until the next day, when bomb disposal teams returned to site and carried out a controlled explosion. A spokesperson from North Wales Police said, “shortly before 6pm yesterday (18 April), officers attended an address in Trefriw following in the discovery of a suspected unexploded ordnance (UXO) device.

“The device was located in the property’s garden by the homeowner. Officers attended the address along with members of the EOD unit. The device was securely contained and transferred to a safe, non-residential location for overnight monitoring. A secure detonation was conducted by EODU just before 9am today (19 April).”

Close up of 28lb practice bomb

Brimstone has assessed the image found in the media and has confirmed the item is an unexploded bomb called a 28lb practice bomb. 28lb practice bombs were used extensively up until the 1980s by British aviators across air weapons ranges on mainland UK, such as Pembrey Sands in South Wales and the now closed RAF Cowden in Yorkshire.

The 28lb practice bomb carries a high explosive and white phosphorous charge within the tail section. The head section (pictured) is solid metal with a mechanical striker inside, designed to ignite the fuze in the tail section on impact.

On initiation, white phosphorous is kicked out by the explosive charged causing characteristic plumes of smoke, flashes and a loud noise. The purpose of the charge was for aviators to track bomb strikes on training exercises.

Experts from Brimstone has analysed the photographs of the item and have determined that the tail section is not present. The fuze and fill have been initiated and the item is inert. On Brimstone’s unexploded ordnance clearance project at the former air weapons range RAF Cowden, the team deal with 28lb practice bombs on a regular basis, disposing of 32 individual 28lb practice bombs since February alone.

Practice bomb on found on former air weapons range RAF Cowden
Practice bomb on found on former air weapons range RAF Cowden
Practice bomb on found on former air weapons range RAF Cowden

Brimstone is a leading provider of UXO risk management support, including explosive ordnance disposal, conventional munitions disposal, preliminary UXO risk assessment and detailed UXO risk assessments, intrusive and non-intrusive UXO surveys, UXO safety brief, UXO watching brief and borehole clearance. If you need specialist UXO support reach out to the team.