Search

Mystery of Highgate explosions that go bang in the night is solved

08:15 17 April 2014

Mysterious Highgate explosions solved? local resident Alex Colias found a used flashbang and smoke grenade near the entrance to the tunnel on Parkland Walk. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Mysterious Highgate explosions solved? local resident Alex Colias found a used flashbang and smoke grenade near the entrance to the tunnel on Parkland Walk. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Grenades could be the cause of mystery “explosions” that have baffled residents in Highgate - and they pose a serious threat to a colony of bats roosting in abandoned railway tunnels.

A used smoke grenade cannister was found near the Highgate Tunnels Bat Project. Picture: Alex ColiasA used smoke grenade cannister was found near the Highgate Tunnels Bat Project. Picture: Alex Colias

Alex Colias found a flashbang - a non-lethal grenade - and a smoke grenade canister at the entrance to bat hibernation sites in the Highgate section of the Parkland Walk on Saturday.

The IT security consultant, who moved to Holmesdale Road, Highgate, last month, believes the canisters to be the source of loud bangs that have confounded residents for 18 months.

“I’ve heard the sounds about three or four times since I moved to the area, and it seemed to always come from the same direction,” the 36-year-old said.

“I thought it was going to be kids messing about with firecrackers, but noticing it’s actually in an area where they are trying to do conservation work with animals that are protected, that’s what got me more motivated to get it stopped.”

A 'grenade simulation device' was also found near the tunnels. Picture: Alex ColiasA 'grenade simulation device' was also found near the tunnels. Picture: Alex Colias

Mr Colias reported his discovery to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which has referred him to the Bat Conservation Trust.

Bats and their roosts are legally protected and disturbing them is a criminal offence.

The two canisters were pushed through the bars of a locked steel gate, designed to prevent anyone from getting too close to Haringey Council’s Highgate Tunnels Bat Project.

A spokesman from Natural England, a government body responsible for protecting the natural environment, warned that a smoke grenade could suffocate and kill the bats roosting in the disused Highgate railway tunnels.

While smoke grenades do not often cause loud bangs, grenade simulators - often used as a military training device - produce a very loud explosion sound.

When it was set off, the sound could have reverberated through the disused railway tunnels - perhaps explaining why explosion sounds have been heard over a large distance, from Muswell Hill and Crouch End to Shepherd’s Hill in Highgate.

The booming noises are said to be so loud that they cause houses to shake in their foundations and have been likened to a car bomb or gas explosion.

Officers from Haringey Police are to investigate, while Haringey Council staff will visit the site to see if they can find more canisters.

The council also confirmed that those running the bat project do not use smoke grenades or grenade simulators as part of their environmental work.

Mr Colias, a semi-professional photographer, added: “My main concern is for the animals. I’m sure someone’s not doing it maliciously.

“It’s likely they set off the explosion and then the bats fly out and it makes for a cool shot, that’s putting myself in their perspective.”

0 comments

Comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 16:29
A view of the proposed development from Maygrove Peace park

The final plans for what would be one of West Hampstead’s tallest towers have been made available to the public after Camden Council submitted the planning application.

Yesterday, 16:00
Pupils dress up for Highgate Primary School's nativity play. Picture: Nigel Sutton

A primary school put its own spin on a traditional nativity play by recruiting three Marys, three Josephs and a talking donkey.

Yesterday, 15:00
La Sainte Union pupils sing Christmas carols. Picture: Dieter Perry

Schoolgirls raised their voices in song to treat a church congregation to Christmas carols at a festive concert.

Yesterday, 13:00
Camden families have been defying new government rules and taking their children on holidays during school term time. Picture: PA File.

Dozens of Camden families have defied new government rules banning pupils from going on holiday during school term time, new figures reveal.

Most read news

And they have a role to play in saving their species.

Twinkle, twinkle you little stars – thanks for making your homes so festive.

Offers for university places are at a record high.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition