The latest threat to the Quaggy has not come from a high rise development, but a high explosive device.
The back gardens of the houses in Gilmore Road slope down to the Quaggy.
Given its proximity to Lewisham town centre, the stretch of the River Quaggy flanked by Lee High Road and Gilmore Road is surprisingly tranquil. But last Friday morning (April 20th) the peaceful flow of the Quaggy was rudely interrupted when contractors working by the river spotted a suspicious looking device in the channel. The police were summoned – Lee High Road and Gilmore Road were quickly closed off and local residents alerted.
Left: The back gardens of the houses in Gilmore Road slope down to the Quaggy. The device was discovered in the river to the right of the gravel bank, just ten days after this photograph was taken.
Bomb disposal experts arrived to examine the device. Was it a bomb? After all, the houses on Gilmore Road closest to the find are built on the site created by a bomb that flattened their predecessors in WWII. A temporary dam was built just upstream of the device to make inspection easier. According to a local QWAG member and eye witness it resembled an “elongated can of beans.”
At about 11:30 the device was made safe by a controlled explosion – a “very loud, dull thump” in the words of our witness.
Below: Bomb disposal experts examine the small crater, surrounded by scattered sandbags, left by the controlled explosion. No discernable remnants of the device appear to have survived.
It seems that the device was an unexploded six-pound shell of WWII vintage, probably fired from an anti-aircraft gun. But if so, how did it get there? Had it been lying in the river for over sixty years, or is it possible it was in the gravel or some other material imported as part of the recent Flood Alleviation Scheme? We will let you know if we can find out any further information.
From discovery to disposal took a mere two hours. It makes you think – if only the other threats to the Quaggy could be remedied as quickly and effectively!