Welcome to our mid-year update on our ongoing work at the former air weapons range, RAF Cowden.

Since winning the competitive tender from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) in 2021, we’ve been making significant progress on this project. This year is no exception, and we’re thrilled to share some of our achievements and updates with you in this month’s blog.

Cowden in the news

Our work at Cowden has been attracting some great media attention this year. In April, we were honoured to welcome a team from the BBC to our site. They reported on our ongoing clearance efforts and our team provided valuable advice to the public about unexploded ordnance (UXO) and suspicious items.

Our Site Manager, Paul Duckworth MBE, emphasised a critical point during the interview:

“There’s a misconception out there that because they are practice bombs they are safe to handle. That is not true. Every practice bomb that was dropped on this range had an element of explosives in them.”

This crucial message was widely broadcast, gaining coverage on multiple BBC platforms, ITV, and other news outlets, helping to raise public awareness about the dangers of UXO.

Bbc visit the brimstone team at cowden

Annual assurance exercise

Earlier this year, our team conducted an annual assurance exercise for the DIO. This comprehensive exercise involved demonstrating our operational procedures, conducting a demolition, and showcasing our first aid capabilities.

With the assistance of Hornsea Inshore Rescue, we executed a practical casualty extraction exercise, reinforcing our preparedness for diverse scenarios.

This annual assurance exercise is not just a routine event; it is a proactive measure that validates the team’s competency, fosters continuous improvement, and ensures the team is well-prepared to handle diverse scenarios.

We had an excellent day and are reassured by the invaluable support we continue to receive from Hornsea.

Training at cowden

UXO finds so far this year

So far this year, the team have removed or disposed of over 25 high explosive items and over 6,500 other items of ordnance from the beach.

It is thought that over 2.5 million items of ammunition were expended on the range during its time of operation. Most of these items were expended on land-based targets, however, thousands of items of UXO are appearing on the beach each year due to the extensive coastal erosion the area is experiencing.

We’ve had lots of interesting finds already this year, including a 1940s 76mm smoke carrier projectile with a clockwork fuze and twin driving bands. It was more than likely fired from a British Comet Tank, which were commissioned in late 1944.

Uxo found at cowden

Other unusual finds have included a flat top practice projectile, a 17lb solid shot with double driving band, a 75mm French HE shell with Ryg18 impact fuze and a British 18lb Shrapnel Shell to name just a few examples.

Each discovery highlights the historical significance and the potential danger of the items we encounter and manage daily.

Our ongoing message to the public

We understand that learning about UXO at Cowden can be unsettling for the public. Especially when it’s being covered in the news and attracting lots of attention!

We want to assure everyone that the Brimstone team is dedicated to the safety of the public. We are on the beach daily, locating and safely disposing of ordnance.

With over three years of experience on this project, public safety remains our utmost priority. Please remember: do not touch or move any items of ordnance. Leave them as they are, and let our trained UXO Engineers manage them safely.

Stay connected

We share regular updates on our work at Cowden on our social media channels. You can keep up to date with Brimstone by following us on Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly known as Twitter), LinkedIn and YouTube.