Picture Past: August 25, 1967 – children ‘steal explosives’ from Weston quarry
PUBLISHED: 16:00 26 August 2017
Children were thought to have stolen explosives 50 years ago, the Weston, Worle and Somerset Mercury reported on August 25, 1967. Here are some of the headlines from that week in Weston-super-Mare.
• Police issued a warning to parents after detonators and a roll of instantaneous fuse was taken from a Weston quarry.
Police believed it had been taken by children, and could be extremely dangerous.
One boy had already been found in Weston Woods with a small amount of explosive materials, similar to that taken from the quarry, in Upper Bristol Road.
• Many South West resorts had complained about a marked drop in seasonal business, put down to the credit squeeze and pay freeze.
But Weston managed to avoid the worst of it, with tourism bosses reporting a drop in visitors just below the average.
Many hoteliers said they had received a surge in last-minute bookings in the final weeks of the summer.
• In the week leading up to the bank holiday weekend, 3,000-4,000 visitors were making their way by train to Weston. Extra trains had to be put on to take them home again.
• One of the men who served on HMS Birnbeck during the war recalled how armaments were dropped around Sand Bay in 1944. Detonators and bombs were discovered on the beach in 1967, and Victor Ashmore told his story to the Mercury.
He said: “Scientists of HMS Birnbeck would produce some new form of weapon or wish to try out some new method and whatever it was would be taken from Birnbeck to Weston Airfield and there loaded on a Lancaster Bomber.”
Those bombers dropped the weapons by Sand Bay at high tide.
Mr Ashmore then got onto a tug boat to collect the remains of the bomb to take back to scientists for inspection. Weapons tested at Birnbeck included the famous bouncing bomb used in the Dambusters raids, and the anti-submarine weapon the Hedgehog.
Mr Ashmore may not have been able to reveal some of the technical aspects of what happened at Birnbeck as many secret Government files were not released until 1974.
• Professional Weston cyclist Roger Claridge came first in the general classification in the Mackeson race.
He turned professional in 1961 but in 1962, a crash left him with a shattered leg and it looked as though his career was over – but he returned eight weeks later.
He rode in the Tour of Britain in 1965.