The bomb was likely used in pre-World War I naval tests sometime between 1880 and 1890.
A Welsh couple were left distraught after a bomb disposal team detonated an old naval shell that had sat in their garden for an estimated 100 years.
Sian and Jeffrey Edwards of Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire told the BBC that the bomb being detonated “was like the passing of an old friend.”
The naval shell weighed 64 pounds and was thought to have dated to the late 19th century. The couple had treated the bomb as a garden decoration, and Sian said she even used to bang her trowel off it when she was done gardening to remove any leftover dirt.
But on Nov. 29, a passing police officer noticed the shell in the couple’s garden and knocked on their door, informing them that he would have to notify the Ministry of Defense. The couple were stunned, but an hour later, they received even more alarming news: The bomb squad would be arriving the next day to dispose of the shell.
The couple were also told there was a possibility the entire street might need evacuating.
“We didn’t sleep a wink all night. It knocked us for six,” Jeffrey Edwards, 77, said. “I told the bomb disposal unit: ‘We’re not leaving the house, we’re staying here. If it goes up, we’re going to go up with it.'”
Jeffrey Edwards had lived on the street since he was three years old. He said the Morris family, whose relatives previously owned the house, had told him the story behind the artillery shell in his younger years.
According to the Morris family, their relative “Pop Morris” had first discovered the shell more than 100 years ago, sometime between 1880 and 1890.
“Warships for the Royal Navy used to drop anchor in St. Brides Bay and point their guns towards Broad Haven and open fire,” Jeffrey relayed. “They used to use the sands for target practice. They’d make sure there was no one on the sands, mind!
“Well Pop Morris, who went around delivering lemonade, was going down to Broad Haven with his horse and cart and found the shell. He struggled back up the beach with it, put it on the back of his cart and had a very bouncy seven-mile ride back home. He plonked it upright in the front courtyard and that’s where it remained.”
By the time Jeffrey and Sian Edwards purchased the home in 1982, the shell had sunken into the concrete. The couple painted it red to match their windowsills.
When the bomb squad arrived at the Edwards home around 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 30, they conducted an X-ray examination that determined the shell was indeed active, albeit with a small charge.
“There was still a little bit of life in the old girl,” Jeffrey told The Telegraph. “They couldn’t leave it here just in case it decided to blow.”
The bomb needed to be slowly dug out of the concrete, after which it was transported by a police escort to a quarry in Walwyn’s Castle. There, experts buried the bomb beneath five tons of sand before detonating it on Dec. 1.
“It was an old friend,” Jeffrey said. “I’m so sorry that the poor old thing was blown to pieces.”
After reading about this unexpectedly dangerous garden ornament, read about the time a WWII bomb self-detonated and created a meteor-sized crater outside a German village. Then, read about the thousands of World War II-era weapons found stored beneath a Japanese school.