Gardener baffled after 'unexploded World War Two bomb' causes parts of Hampstead to be closed off
PUBLISHED: 08:16 03 June 2016 | UPDATED: 10:15 03 June 2016
A gardener is at the centre of confusion after she dug up what was thought to be an unexploded World War Two bomb - causing large parts of Hampstead to be evacuated.
For the green-fingered among us, a day of bank-holiday gardening is the epitome of relaxation.
At least, that is what Catherine Woolgar expected when she embarked on some weeding at her Gayton Road home in Hampstead.
What she did not expect was to instead dig up a suspected unexploded Second World War bomb in her flower bed, causing homes to be evacuated and roads to be closed across Hampstead.
Catherine, 43, said: “I was in the garden clearing up and I saw something in the flower bed so I called my house guest, Grant, over to have a look at it with me.
“We thought it might be a bit of Victorian building debris.
“I banged it with my spade – which probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do – and it clanged so we knew it was made of metal.
“Because of the recent bomb scare in Bath I rang the non-emergency number and said: ‘It’s probably nothing but you might want to check it out just in case’.
“Within two minutes two police officers had arrived at my house.
“They went and looked in the garden but also did not know what it was.
“They called explosive professionals as they suspected it might be a World War Two bomb.”
Police told Catherine and Grant they would need to evacuate the building as a precaution so they packed up Catherine’s little black cat, George, and the three of them headed down the road to the local pub.
Catherine added: “George was not happy about being put in his carrier, he thought he was off to the vets.”
Police cordoned off parts of Hampstead High Street as well as Gayton Road and evacuated nearby residents as a team of experts inspected the suspicious metal object.
Catherine, a tech company owner who has lived on the road for more than 10 years, said she was not initially scared by her garden being host to a potential explosive.
“I was quite intrigued,” she explained. “At first it was an adventure.
“It was not until afterwards that we felt a bit wobbly about the whole thing.”
Police explosive experts were at the scene for just 20 minutes before concluding that the item is not suspicious and is, in fact, safe.
A police spokesman said: “Police were called at 2.15pm on Monday, May 30, to a metal object found by a member of the public in a garden in Gayton Road, Hampstead.
“Local road closures were put in place whilst police carry out further investigation at the location.
“The scene was stood down at 3pm hours and the object was deemed non-suspicious.”
The mystery of the so-called “Hampstead bomb” continues, however, as Catherine is none-the-wiser to what the large metal object actually is.
She said: “No one seems to know what it is, even the police and experts.
“We are going to try and get it out of the ground and find out what it is because there are rumours that treasure is buried somewhere in Hampstead, so you never know! A stall down the road wants to sell it as some kind of Hampstead souvenir but I might keep it in the garden and use it as a feature.”