Thursday, February 28, 2013
Police have confirmed a bomb scare that led to the evacuation of Swiss Cottage leisure centre today was a hoax.
The leisure centre and nearby Swiss Cottage Library were evacuated at about 2.30pm after a member of staff reportedly received a phone call about a bomb in a locker.
Police blocked off the area leaving crowds of chilly gym-users wrapped in silver blankets huddled in groups outside.
Police tape stretched from Eton Avenue to Adelaide Road and Swiss Cottage station was closed.
The Ham&High offices in nearby Avenue Road were also briefly evacuated.
Fire engines, scores of police cars and ambulances were all present at the scene and sniffer dogs were used to search the building.
Sue Peterson, 21, from Kilburn, was using the bikes in the gym during the a lunch time work-out when she was told to leave.
“They came in quietly and said we had to leave,” she said. “I thought it was going to be a fire alarm. We’re all very cold.”
Another woman who was in the middle of doing a leg extension when she was told she had to leave the building said she was worried about being stranded and could not call her partner because her phone, keys and wallet were left inside.
As traffic was diverted and bus stops were closed, hundreds of people using the busy thoroughfare in Swiss Cottage were left stranded and unable to get home.
As police cordoned off Eton Avenue, an elderly blind man who was playing his violin in the square was allowed to continue entertaining the crowd with his classical music.
At about 3.55pm the leisure centre was re-opened and police confirmed the bomb scare was a false alarm.
Shivering gym users were allowed back inside to collect their bags and the public were allowed to use the centre and the library once again.
Less than an hour before the bomb scare Swiss Cottage pool was evacuated due to an unrelated accident involving a small child in the pool.