Grenade drama at charity shop

A BUSTLING town centre street was transformed into the scene of a bomb scare and evacuation - after a hand grenade was discovered among items given to a charity shop.

A BUSTLING town centre street was transformed into the scene of a bomb scare and evacuation - after a hand grenade was discovered among items given to a charity shop.

The saga unfolded yesterday after staff at the Mind store in Ipswich's St Matthew's Street began rummaging through a box of donated goods.

At the bottom of the box, wrapped tightly in old newspaper, was the First World War grenade - complete with its pin.

Police were called at 11.15am and officers immediately cordoned off the area, forcing customers in the nearby Iceland supermarket to abandon their shopping. The seven volunteers working in Mind were also ushered out, as were the staff and clientele in neighbouring cafes.


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Meanwhile, staff at The New Wolsey Theatre were told to move away from the building's windows - but in the end the drama turned out to be much ado about nothing after army bomb disposal experts from Colchester discovered that the rusty device had already been decommissioned and could not be detonated.

Mind store manager Gill Dibben, 42, stumbled upon the weapon as she sorted through items collected from a car boot sale in Ardleigh.

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She said: “I have come across some unusual things in my time here but I have never found a hand grenade.

“The last thing in the bottom of the box was rolled up in newspaper. I unwrapped it and thought it might be a lighter but I saw it had a pin in it and realised what it was.

“At first we were going to take it to the police station on foot but we thought maybe it wasn't such a good idea so we put it in the gents toilet and called police. The bomb squad turned up and within five or ten minutes came out with it.”

The 30sq m exclusion zone saw Black Horse Lane and Lady Lane temporarily closed. The incident was over by 12.15pm.

Mrs Dibben said: “We all sat on the wall at the back of the Wolsey. The whole thing was surreal - it was like watching the Bill.”

She claimed the device, known as a pineapple grenade because of its shape and thought to have been made in 1915, would be donated to a museum.

Mrs Dibben added: “You just don't expect to see something like that.”

Have you found an unusual item? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The pineapple grenade, also known as the Mark II, was about the size and shape of a large lemon.

The First World War model weighed about 22 ounces.

When detonated, the segmented body broke into fragments with a blast radius of 80ft.

It was a defensive grenade because the thrower had to be protected against the fragments.

The Mark II saw service with the US army well into the 1960s.

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