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Magnet fisher speaks of the moment he realised he was looking at Second World War grenade at Teston Bridge Country Park

By Mary Graham

A couple trying out magnet fishing for the first time have spoken of how they became the centre of an emergency response when they fished out an unexploded grenade from the river.

Police and the Army's bomb squad rushed to Teston Bridge Country Park earlier today after Luke Crofts and his partner Louise Harris made the discovery. The Army's bomb disposal team safely detonated it this evening.

Speaking of the moment they came face-to-face with what is believed to be a Mills Grenade, Mr Crofts said: "At first, I was really pleased to have found something of historical value. But my next thought was: "Oh **** I'm holding on to a bomb."

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The bomb found at Teston Bridge Country Park
The bomb found at Teston Bridge Country Park

The couple, from Hoo, were inspired to try out magnet fishing when they saw a pile of shopping trolleys pulled out of the River Medway in Maidstone, near Asda and TK Maxx.

Luke Crofts and Louise Harris. Picture Luke Crofts on Facebook
Luke Crofts and Louise Harris. Picture Luke Crofts on Facebook

They thought they would do their bit for wildlife and see if they could relieve the river of some its metal items, expecting to find a load of junk.

Their haul included forks, golf clubs and pocket knives and when their son, Harry, 19, retrieved a set of temporary traffic lights they thought that would be the extent of the excitement.

The family were trying out magnet fishing for the first time
The family were trying out magnet fishing for the first time

Mr Crofts, who manages a garage in Maidstone, added: "Then the powerful magnet locked onto something and it was quite heavy. I saw it was round and then I registered it was a grenade. Then all the thoughts started, "do I touch it, do I leave it?"

"We called the police straight away. One of the officers was telling me that all the time they are submerged in the water these things are quite safe, but they can explode when they dry out. They advised me to get my family as far away as possible while the cordons were being set up."

Police have closed off the footpaths leading to the country park and Kent County Council staff who manage the park also swept into action.

Bomb disposal teams at Teston Bridge Country Park. Picture courtesy of Tom Place
Bomb disposal teams at Teston Bridge Country Park. Picture courtesy of Tom Place

The Army's bomb disposal team arrived at around 4.30pm and the couple were told they could leave if they wanted to.

They are currently celebrating Father's Day with Mr Crofts' father and no doubt have some tales to tell.

Mr Crofts and Miss Harris, a business manager for a firm of surveyors, say they will return to a river for more magnet fishing.

The drama comes amid a busy time for bomb disposal teams in the county.

Last week a swathe of an estate was cordoned off when an unexploded device was dug up on a building site. You can see the dramatic moment the Luftwaffe SD50 fragmentation bomb was destroyed in a controlled explosion here.

And just two days ago, a primary school was put on lockdown when a pupil is believed to have brought a grenade into a classroom.

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