House clearances: it’s a dangerous business

There are numerous benefits to hiring a professional house clearance company: it saves you the hassle of doing it yourself; the clearing gets done quicker; they may be able to sell any valuable items for you and they should be licensed waste carriers, so will be able to dispose of any rubbish in accordance with Environment Agency rules.

But outsourcing home clearances could also save you from coming face-to-face with relics from the past. And we don’t mean old photos or heirlooms that may tug on your heartstrings.

It’s not uncommon for those emptying properties to come across unexploded wartime bombs.

This year alone there have been numerous reports of explosive devices being uncovered at UK addresses.

On 11th August, it was reported that a World War II bomb was found in a loft in Cradley Heath, near Dudley in the West Midlands.

Just a week earlier, army bomb disposal experts destroyed two mortar shells that were uncovered by a house clearance team working at a property in Guisborough.

A Jersey-based house clearance firm uncovered a First World War grenade in a box of items from a house that was due to be renovated. They drove around with it in the van for most of the day before realising they were carrying potentially explosive cargo!

A road in a suburb of Leeds was closed in July after a hand grenade believed to be from the Second World War was uncovered during a loft clearance.

In Sheldon, just west of Birmingham Airport, a grenade was discovered in a home on the morning of July 16th.

Police and bomb disposal experts descended upon Mickleover in Derbyshire on 23 June after an unexploded wartime device turned up in a residence there.

June also saw an inert WW2 device uncovered in a garden in Audley Road, Richmond.

Cradley Heath residents seem to have more than their fair share of this sort of discovery, as a grenade turned up there in May as well!

A local resident told the Express & Star: “We don’t have something like this everyday. The whole street couldn’t believe it. They didn’t know if the grenade was live or not.

“His family had hired a house clearance – they were going through stuff and found a box with a grenade in it. They said… the grenade was rusty and still had the pin in it.”

The Peterborough Telegraph reported that the bomb squad were called out to a suspicious device uncovered in a house clearance in Orton Brimbles on 14th May.

On April 3, an unexploded hand grenade surfaced in a house in Northfield in the West Midlands.

The Royal Navy’s bomb disposal experts removed and detonated suspected dynamite that was uncovered as a house was cleared in Hayle, Cornwall in December last year.

A replica of a WWI bomb turned up at the offices of auctioneers Thomson Roddick in Carlisle in November 2016. No damage was done, but emergency services and bomb disposal experts were called and a 100m exclusion zone set up whilst the device was inspected.

“We’d got some stuff in from a house clearance and I was starting to go through the items this morning,” said the valuer who uncovered the potential explosive.

“This was among it and at first I thought it was a ship’s log but when I started taking a proper look I thought it was a bomb with its safety pin in it. The pin had some words on a label too.
“I think if it was a training round it would usually be painted red or something or have some grooves on it but there were no markings on this. I couldn’t tell you how old it was or which country it’s from but it looks like a First World War bomb. It is that torpedo shape everyone will know.”

As these examples attest, uncovering wartime bombs isn’t as rare as you might think. According to the BBC, between 2010 and the start of 2018, the Ministry of Defence said it had been involved with making safe 450 German WW2 bombs, which works out as about 60 a year. But Zetica, a specialist unexploded ordnance company, reckon that private sector firms could be dealing with up to 8,000 items a year between them.

“You might think house clearances are all about clearing out rubbish and disposing of fridges,” says Kevin Corneille, owner of Bromley’s Adelphi House Clearance.

“But we uncover some weird and wonderful stuff. Understanding what it is and how to dispose of it is all part of the house clearer’s craft.

“And sometimes that means knowing when to call the bomb squad!”

There are numerous benefits to hiring a professional house clearance company: it saves you the hassle of doing it yourself; the clearing gets done quicker; they may be able to sell any valuable items for you and they should be licensed waste carriers, so will be able to dispose of any rubbish in accordance with Environment Agency rules.

But outsourcing home clearances could also save you from coming face-to-face with relics from the past. And we don’t mean old photos or heirlooms that may tug on your heartstrings.

It’s not uncommon for those emptying properties to come across unexploded wartime bombs.

This year alone there have been numerous reports of explosive devices being uncovered at UK addresses.

On 11th August, it was reported that a World War II bomb was found in a loft in Cradley Heath, near Dudley in the West Midlands.

Just a week earlier, army bomb disposal experts destroyed two mortar shells that were uncovered by a house clearance team working at a property in Guisborough.

A Jersey-based house clearance firm uncovered a First World War grenade in a box of items from a house that was due to be renovated. They drove around with it in the van for most of the day before realising they were carrying potentially explosive cargo!

A road in a suburb of Leeds was closed in July after a hand grenade believed to be from the Second World War was uncovered during a loft clearance.

In Sheldon, just west of Birmingham Airport, a grenade was discovered in a home on the morning of July 16th.

Police and bomb disposal experts descended upon Mickleover in Derbyshire on 23 June after an unexploded wartime device turned up in a residence there.

June also saw an inert WW2 device uncovered in a garden in Audley Road, Richmond.

Cradley Heath residents seem to have more than their fair share of this sort of discovery, as a grenade turned up there in May as well!

A local resident told the Express & Star: “We don’t have something like this everyday. The whole street couldn’t believe it. They didn’t know if the grenade was live or not.

“His family had hired a house clearance – they were going through stuff and found a box with a grenade in it. They said… the grenade was rusty and still had the pin in it.”

The Peterborough Telegraph reported that the bomb squad were called out to a suspicious device uncovered in a house clearance in Orton Brimbles on 14th May.

On April 3, an unexploded hand grenade surfaced in a house in Northfield in the West Midlands.

The Royal Navy’s bomb disposal experts removed and detonated suspected dynamite that was uncovered as a house was cleared in Hayle, Cornwall in December last year.

A replica of a WWI bomb turned up at the offices of auctioneers Thomson Roddick in Carlisle in November 2016. No damage was done, but emergency services and bomb disposal experts were called and a 100m exclusion zone set up whilst the device was inspected.

“We’d got some stuff in from a house clearance and I was starting to go through the items this morning,” said the valuer who uncovered the potential explosive.

“This was among it and at first I thought it was a ship’s log but when I started taking a proper look I thought it was a bomb with its safety pin in it. The pin had some words on a label too.
“I think if it was a training round it would usually be painted red or something or have some grooves on it but there were no markings on this. I couldn’t tell you how old it was or which country it’s from but it looks like a First World War bomb. It is that torpedo shape everyone will know.”

As these examples attest, uncovering wartime bombs isn’t as rare as you might think. According to the BBC, between 2010 and the start of 2018, the Ministry of Defence said it had been involved with making safe 450 German WW2 bombs, which works out as about 60 a year. But Zetica, a specialist unexploded ordnance company, reckon that private sector firms could be dealing with up to 8,000 items a year between them.

“You might think house clearances are all about clearing out rubbish and disposing of fridges,” says Kevin Corneille, owner of Bromley’s Adelphi House Clearance.

“But we uncover some weird and wonderful stuff. Understanding what it is and how to dispose of it is all part of the house clearer’s craft.

“And sometimes that means knowing when to call the bomb squad!”

Want to become a better landlord or tenant?

Subscribe to our mailing list and get exclusive updates to your inbox!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get regular updates and exclusive access to new guides
in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get updates to your inbox.