I live in London’s East End, in what some my think is a concrete brutalist block of flats not far from Bethnal Green. The block has quite a good community feel and we have an emailing list for discussing various things, including flats to let, good electricians and complaining about our managing agents.
I’m not there at the moment since I’m at the International Astronomical Union General Assembly in Honolulu. I was thus rather shocked to read in email two days ago that there were police cordons, fire engines and people from the Army surrounding the local neighbourhood.
A bomb had been discovered during work in the basement of a building not far from home, a 500lb German bomb from World War 2. It was probably dropped at the same time as the bomb that levelled the Victorian buildings on the land on which my block was built.
A cordon of 100m was set up around the bomb and everyone inside was evacuated.
Army bomb disposal experts worked on the bomb, to defuse and remove it, but were hampered by the fact that the bomb was inside a building and would have to be taken out through corridors and up stairs.
Sometime on Monday night, at about midnight, it was decided that the cordon should be extended to 300m, taking in my block and some of the major roads in the area. Police went round my building and told people to leave, though their coverage of the building seems to have been rather partial, since some of my neighbours slept through the whole thing. Those evacuated spent the night in a nearby school with facilities provided by Tower Hamlets, our local council.
Eventually, sometime on Tuesday, the bomb was finally defused and removed.
Everything is fine now, but the bomb was described as being capable of ‘mass destruction’ if it had gone off.