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World War Two bombs shed light on history of Upminster during the war

18:00 14 April 2012

Upminster Old Chapel, in St Mary's Lane, Upminster

Upminster Old Chapel, in St Mary's Lane, Upminster

Archant

The discovery of an unexploded World War Two bomb in the grounds of a school just three weeks after 22 shells were unearthed has shed new light on the history of Upminster during the war.

Historian Brian Evans said that the shells, which were found on Tuesday April 10 near the Upminster Old Chapel on the site of Sacred Heart of Mary Girls’ School in St Mary’s Lane, Upminster are a “unique finding”.

He said: “There are probably unexploded bombs scattered all over the borough, but this case is unique because of the number that have been found in the same location.

“It is very unusual that so many were planted there and just forgotten about.”

The police and London Fire Brigade were alerted to the latest discovery at around 7.36am on Tuesday.

Residents were adviced to leave their homes and road closures were also put in place for two hours.

It came just three weeks after builders initially dug up two shells while working on the restoration of the Upminster Old Chapel.

When the bomb disposal experts arrived, they later found 22 unexploded shells.

Brian believes that the shells were buried near the Upminster Old Chapel during the war and were going to be let off in nearby fields, but had been forgotten about.

He said: “It just shows how much they were overwhelmed during the war.

“It was hard to keep check of everything and they had probably stored the bombs there and were going to let them off because the area was just open fields at the time, but it looks like they left in a hurry and forgot where they had stored them.”

Work is currently being carried out on restoring the Upminster Old Chapel so that the building can open again to the public.

Since closing in 1987, the historic building has been neglected and was placed on English Heritage’s At Risk Register.

Brian said: “This building has been abandoned for a long time and the fact that they were storing bombs near it, just shows how little it was regarded.

“Things were usually done very efficiently during the war, but the fact that so many potentially dangerous bombs were left there, is a big oversight.”

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