Bomb squad called after five-year-old boy finds 'artillery shell' while fishing with dad in Tameside

21/06/2022
The shell, which is believed to date back to WWII, was discovered by the 5-year-old just before midday Credit: MEN

A bomb squad was called after a five-year-old boy found an 'artillery shell' while magnet fishing with his dad in Tameside.

William Nixon, 51, was out fishing in a canal in Ashton-under-Lyne with his Friend Andrew and his two sons, five-year-old Leo and seven-year-old Riley on Sunday 19 June.

They were just about to finish at their fishing spot at the bottom of Margaret Street and head to another bridge when little Leo unearthed the artillery shell.

Credit: MEN

Emergency services were called to the quiet canal-side path after Leo pulled the artillery shell out from the canal.

Mr Nixon said: "It was me, my two sons, and a friend of ours that came along and it was a bit of a rubbish bridge to be doing so we were just about to call it and head to another when low and behold little Leo pulls this shell out.

"To be honest, we don't like to find them because it causes too much mayhem for everyone around but when they're out they're out and you can't really do anything."

Credit: MEN

Mr Nixon, who lives in Leeds, regularly travels to parts of the country to magnet fish, having been out in Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, and Ashton previously.

It is not the first time he or his sons have found weaponry, with the group often coming across knives, several guns, and even a grenade before.

He said: "I've been doing it for nearly three years and I've had a grenade and a shell, Leo actually found a Magnum 38 9mm handgun in Manchester around four weeks ago.

Credit: MEN

"When you pull something like that up it just kicks in, not a panic but more of a 'right now, what are we going to do?"

The shell, which is believed to date back to WWII, was discovered by the five-year-old just before midday.

According to Leo's dad, Greater Manchester Police were called to the scene and put a cordon in place around the canal for the bomb disposal experts to be called in.

The canal branches off from Cavendish Street and down several side streets, with the main scene focused around the bridge on Margaret Street where the shell was discovered.

At around 3.10pm, bomb disposal experts removed the device from the area.

Mr Nixon added: "We used to ring the non-emergency number but the last time I did that I was on hold for an hour and then it took another three-and-a-half before anyone could come out so for things like this we just ring 999 and their response was amazing to be fair.

"It's one of them days, but for a five-year-old it's made his day."

The bodies of water around Greater Manchester are one of Mr Nixon's favourite places to magnet fish, as they "always seem to give the goodies" - the interesting finds that can then be passed to police if they're prohibited weaponry such as guns or zombie knives, or kept if they're BB guns and not restricted by law.

"It's a great hobby, and the kids love it. Mystery wise it's fantastic because you just never know what you're going to get.

"We've had everything, some WWII knives, bullets, guns, I mean everything. I love the history stuff, all the handguns have to go to the police but we can keep the BB guns but we have to be very careful."

Credit: MEN

Due to how common it is to find various weaponry, Mr Nixon has had to keep up-to-date with the latest legislation to ensure he hands over his finds to the police where necessary, calling officers out to pick up guns, machetes, and serrated blades picked up from the bottom of the water ways.

However, explosives are one of his least favourite finds due to how disruptive they are to people in the local area.

He said: "We don't like to find them, it's a disruption to everybody's day, especially on father's day, people do moan and say 'oh they've caused chaos again' but it's not like we're fishing them out every week, that's only the third time in three years for us.

"I do feel for the residents though, it's not fair on them but as a hobby for me and my kids it's great."