Brondesbury Park bomb: World War II device found in north London defused

Tom Powell, Jessica Morgan
Defused: The World War II device has been defused: MoD/Crown Copyright/PA

The unexploded World War Two bomb which forced more than 50 residents to leave their homes in north west London has been defused, police said.

The army weapon disposal experts successfully neutralised the huge German aircraft bomb at 7.30pm on Friday.

The device was then loaded into a lorry and driven away from Brondesbury Park at 8.30pm.

Scotland Yard said all residents have since been allowed to return home and all cordons have been lifted.

Soldiers inspect the bomb (Rupert Frere/MoD/Crown Copyright/PA)

Hundreds of pupils from Marylebone Boys School and Malorees junior and infants schools were evacuated as well as many residents after the 500lb device was unearthed at a building site on Thursday morning.

Captain Steve Glover, senior technical officer for explosive ordnance disposal, told the Standard the operation had gone "really well".

He said: "We are looking to start work on the neutralisation of the fuses this afternoon.

"It will then take a couple of hours to soak it and make sure it's all safe before we start moving it out."

Captain Glover revealed that the dustbin-sized bomb, dropped in 1940 during the Blitz, had two fuses which needed to be neutralised.

He would not confirm how dangerous the bomb could be, but admitted such devices "are designed to cause maximum disruption".

He insisted there was no danger to the public and that after the fuses were neutralised the bomb was no more than "a big lump of metal".

"There was a very very tiny chance of it going off but we will not take risks with people's lives which is why we worked with the authorities to clear the area," he said.

"This operation has been complicated by the fact it's a very urban area.

"It's impossible to say how much damage it could do."

Soldiers worked throughout the night to try to defuse the bomb (Sgt Rupert Frere)

A police cordon remained in place on The Avenue on Friday and pupils at the nearby schools were given the day off.

Brent Council set up a rest centre at nearby St Martin's Church for those evacuated from their homes.

Mick Gallagher, borough commander for Brent, today revealed he and many of the officers involved in the operation knew what to do after finding a similar bomb at Wembley stadium two years ago.

He said: "A lot of the officers, including myself, have got experience in dealing with this even though it is very unusual."

He said that the bomb was expected to be removed and taken to an undisclosed location outside of London this afternoon to be safely detonated.

The bomb has been described as 'dustbin sized' (Rupert Frere/MoD/Crown Copyright)

"We are very much being guided by the army and bomb disposal experts on this," he said.

"But my view is that we have it contained.

"It has been there since 1940 but it is still dangerous enough to want to evacuate residents as a precaution.

"We are sure the schools will be back on Monday. The kids won't be getting another day off unfortunately for them".

The army is taking the bomb to the countryside to safely dispose of it (Rupert Frere/MoD/Crown Copyright)

Some 50 residents were put up at a nearby Holiday Inn last night, where free dominos pizza was laid on. About half of them were children and there were also two dogs. Others stayed with friends and Family.

The bomb was found by construction workers preparing to build 74 new apartments for developer Regal Homes.

The firm said it was assisting the services in whatever way it could.

Soldiers measure the bomb (Rupert Frere/MoD/Crown Copyright)

Roxanne Landripet, who was evacuated on Thursday and spent the night at her sister's house, said she had been informed she may be able to return home at 6pm this evening.

Another evacuated resident called Amy said: "It's not a great way to spend a Friday and possibly a weekend but it's what had to be done.

"They gave each person ten minutes to collect our belongings and waited for us.

The student added: "I felt that it was a little over dramatic that such a big area had to be evacuated but I'm glad they found the bomb and it was kind of them to offer shelter for us."

Superintendent Nigel Quantrell of Brent police said: "I would like to thank the local community for their support over the two days of this operation.

"Their co-operation, and especially their patience, has been invaluable in enabling the police, the Army and other partners, including the London Borough of Brent, to deal with this incident safely."