Army rush to Market Harborough after magnet fisherman discovers hand grenade in canal

The Army rushed all the way from Catterick Garrison

Friday, 13th August 2021, 12:42 pm
Photo by Andrew Carpenter.

A full scale 999 drama was sparked when a deadly live hand grenade was fished out of the canal in Market Harborough yesterday afternoon (Thursday).

Police sealed off the towpath and turned the town’s busy waterway into a no go zone after the alarm was raised by stunned magnet fisherman Aaron Fraser who found the small bomb.

The emergency security operation was carried out for over three hours before the rusty wartime weapon was blown up by Army explosives experts last night.

Photo by Andrew Carpenter.

Today Aaron, 30, told the Harborough Mail: “It was an incredible drama.

“I was up there with the scrap man who buys a lot of the stuff I find off me when it suddenly kicked off.

“We pulled out the hand grenade at about 3pm on Thursday afternoon – and I realised straight away what it was,” he said.

“I fished a live grenade out of the River Soar in Leicester earlier this year so I knew exactly what I had to do.

Aaron immediately knew what the item was a hand grenade. Photo by Andrew Carpenter.

“I called 999 and told the police operator what I’d found.

“Officers turned up within two minutes, they were very fast,” said Aaron, who was fishing near to Union Wharf just off Logan Crescent.

“My adrenaline was pumping, it was quite a shock, but I tried to stay calm and keep a clear head.

“The police dashed straight through the alley linking up the canal to the street.

“The hand grenade was obviously very old, very dirty and in a terrible condition.

“I put it back into the water because I knew that would be safer.

“I didn’t want to run the risk of it exploding on the canal bank,” said Aaron, a shift manager at the Sugar Loaf pub on Market Harborough’s High Street.

“The police immediately went into action, cordoning off that section of the towpath.

“Runners and walkers were led away just in case the grenade exploded.

“Officers also stopped boats travelling along that stretch of the canal on the edge of the town.

“I’d actually been filming what I was doing to edit and load up on to YouTube when it all happened.

“I use a very powerful magnet which reaches right into the silt and mud at the bottom of the canal – and can fish just about anything out.

“Unfortunately, my magnet was blown up with the grenade in Leicester at the start of the year,” said Aaron, who took up magnet fishing last October.

“And this one was blown up by the army too – and they cost £220 each.

“So that’s a real kick in the teeth, I’ll just have to go out and buy another one.

“But the main thing is that nobody was injured in this astonishing incident.

“I’ve fished regularly at this spot on the canal in Market Harborough for almost a year – and this is the first bomb I’ve found there.

“It looked very old, it may even have dated back to the First World War.

“I’d already dragged out a motorbike and retrieved a bullet before the grenade popped up.

“Two weeks ago I recovered two car doors and a car floor.

“I love it because you never know what you’re going to stumble across.

“I’ve hauled out knives, quadbikes, pushbikes and an air rifle among loads of other stuff over the last few months.

“It’s so exciting and very intriguing.

“And we are doing the environment and countryside a massive favour at the same time by helping to clear up our beautiful canals, rivers and waterways.”

Roger Green, 71, and his wife Maggie, 73, were chugging along the popular canal towards Foxton with their two dogs Bert and Ruby when they got caught up in the freakish drama.

Retired Roger told the Mail today: “We were just leaving Market Harborough when police suddenly turned up on the canal bank and told us to stop where we were.

“They said a hand grenade had been found and the Army’s bomb squad was on its way to tackle it.

“We learned they were on their way from Catterick Garrison 150 miles away in North Yorkshire.

“The Army’s specialist team pitched up at about 6pm and they took the grenade away with them to blow up safely,” said Roger, of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

“There were quite a number of narrowboats trapped on either side of the police cordon – we ended up staying there for the night.

“We are out touring our brilliant waterways for a month – and we’ve never been tangled up in a drama like this before!

“It’s a great story and I’m just pleased that it was all dealt with safely and effectively and no one got hurt.”

A Leicestershire Police spokesman said: “Shortly after 3pm yesterday (Thursday 12 August) a call was received stating what was believed to be an explosive device had been pulled from a canal near Logan Crescent in Market Harborough.

“Officers set up a cordon at the scene.

“No properties were evacuated and the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team was contacted.

“They later removed the device and detonated it at a safe location.”