HALLS auctioneer Jeremy Lamond expected the relaunch of his Shrewsbury saleroom to be the biggest challenge of the month. But a small box of antiques consigned for sale soon changed that.
Lurking at the bottom, alongside some clock parts and hand tools, was a live grenade – a Second World War No 36 Mills bomb.
Realising that the grenade was potentially live, Mr Lamond and his staff kept their cool.
They called the police and put the grenade in a bucket and then in a skip in their car park until officers arrived. “Luckily we did exactly the right thing and no one was injured,” he told ATG.
It was also a very brave thing to do – Mills bombs have a four-second fuse and an impact spread of 80 yards.
The police evacuated the premises and sealed off the surrounding area, including the Welsh Bridge over the River Severn. Then the bomb squad arrived from Hereford and took the grenade to the West Midlands Showground where they carried out a controlled explosion.
The box of antiques had been collected from a house in the nearby Whitchurch. The woman who owned the house believed the Mills bomb had been brought back from the war by her late father-in-law and it had been kept in the garden shed for over 60 years.
The 36 Mills bomb was mass-produced during the Second World War. Over 70 million were made and the small pineapple-shaped grenades were particularly effective at clearing enemy strongpoints and foxholes. The 36 Mills remained almost unchanged as the standard issue British grenade until 1972.
The incident came exactly a week after the Mayor of Shrewsbury, Councillor Roger Evans, unveiled the new-look Welsh Bridge saleroom.
Councillor Evans praised Halls for their investment in the town, noting that he had used many of its services including the fine art section.
The upgraded saleroom has been redecorated and improved features include a new entrance from the reception area, new lighting, display cabinets, carpets, and updated general display areas.
About 150 guests attended the reception, which was sponsored by Shrewsbury-based insurance brokers Beaumont Lawrence and Co Ltd.
“I was delighted with the excellent attendance and encouraged by the upbeat mood and positive comments about the improvements we have made to the saleroom to enhance the auction experience for everyone who visits,” said Mr Lamond.
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