Seafront deserted in wake of find

LOOKING more like a winter's day than a warm spring one, Felixstowe seafront was completely deserted today.

LOOKING more like a winter's day than a warm spring one, Felixstowe seafront was completely des-erted today.

Police stood at roadblocks politely answering people's questions but steadfastly refusing to allow anyone into the exclusion zone.

Where normally there are walkers and joggers enjoying some early-morning exercise on the prom, there were just seagulls sitting on rocks, soaking up the view of the blue sea and passing shipping.

In the distance members of the Royal Navy bomb disposal team could be seen on the beach keeping an eye on the 1,000lb-plus bomb which has caused the scare.

Hotels and guest houses had been emptied - some guests checked into other accommodation in the town centre - and amusement arcades, pubs, kiosks, cafes and other businesses were closed.

Streets were empty, with few cars on the seafront, and none of the usual hustle and bustle.

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Paths and gateways were barred by blue-and-white police incident tape.

Fifteen hours before the bomb was discovered yesterday morning, the seafront was its busiest so far this year.

Thousands of people were enjoying their a Sunday afternoon by the sea - blissfully unaware of what was approaching the shore.

On an afternoon of fine spring sunshine, families toured the market looking for bargains, enjoyed their first ice creams of the season, and sat outside kiosks and cafes chatting and making the most of the day.

But, just offshore, scour tides were sweeping in a German bomb which failed to make its target during the Second World War - and, according to the experts, could easily have smashed into the sea defence rocks and exploded.

It doesn't bear thinking about. There will be other bombs out there, too, and over the years some have been washed ashore, though none has ever exploded on their own.

The massive evacuation had included even an old people's home, with the residents checked into hotels elsewhere for the night, patiently waiting to be allowed back.

Bellstone nursing home in Beach Road West was evacuated and residents taken to sheltered accommodation at Margery Girling House, Gosford Way, Felixstowe.

In contrast, Garrison Lane car park just a few yards outside the zone was a hive of activity - with dozens of police and community support officers, ambulance crews and council officials gathered, plus a mobile police station.

The car park was full of ambulances and police cars as officers continued to keep a close watch on the situation.

Ironically, the emergency plan for southern Felixstowe was set up to deal with flooding - but it took a war-time bomb for it to swing into action.