The annual festival of back-slapping, the Croydon Business Awards, came close to being cancelled last night.
With the awards due to be held in the Grand Sapphire Hotel, off the Purley Way, organisers and guests were evacuated just two hours before the function was due to begin, as the police and specialist officers moved in to deal with an unexploded World War II bomb discovered off Imperial Way.
Roads were closed, and traffic on the A23 Purley Way was worse than usual.
Eye-witnesses who contacted Inside Croydon relate to having their car cordoned off in the car park at Costco for two hours.
The emergency evacuation was prompted when someone arrived at the scrapyard next to Costco with the object, which they were looking to sell for scrap.
The police refused to allow any vehicles out of the Costco car park for the duration – with only one exit available, vehicles would have had to drive past the site of the unexploded bomb.
By 7pm, the Metropolitan Police had cleared the object, removed for safe detonation.
The Met statement said, “Police were called at 1700hrs on Thursday, 4 October to reports of explosive shell found in Imperial Way, Croydon. Officers attended the location and cordons were put in place.
“A WWII shell was recovered by specialist officers. Cordons have now been lifted.”
It had been assumed that the bomb may have been discovered on the site – which was close to the former Croydon Aerodrome, which during World War II had served as a fighter station, playing a front-line role in the Battle of Britain.
This made the Aerodrome, and Croydon, a target for Luftwaffe bombers. On August 15, 1940, Croydon Aerodrome was the target for the first major bombing raid of the war on London. Neighbouring factories were severely damaged, and six airmen and 62 civilians were killed, with nearly 200 people injured.
Back at the Grand Sapphire Hotel, the awards ceremony, organised by the council’s favoured public relations firm, Grey Label, were able to go ahead, though with very few… fireworks.
With absolutely no sense of irony, among the ward-winners last night was a property development company for “commitment to the community”, while, in the midst of #CroydonBinChaos, with its accompanying vermin problems, the best employer award went to a pest control company.
For some in Croydon at least, it is a boom time, though fortunately not for the bomb disposal unit.
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