A relic from the Second World War sparked a turnout by army bomb disposal experts and police after it was found by a workman in the rafters at a house.
Neighbours were warned to stay indoors, in rooms at the front of their homes, as the mortar discovered above the bathroom by roofing contractors was checked out at the back of the house.
The road was closed off for about two hours on Saturday lunchtime and West Midlands Police sent out their helicopter to monitor the scene in Clark Street, Stourbridge. Contractors re-roofing Jennifer Eglinton’s bathroom and kitchen extension found the device in the eaves, just above the guttering, after removing the tiles.
But, after it was checked by the bomb disposal experts, it was found not to contain any explosive, said Pete Edney, West Midlands Police spokesman.
“I was told sniffer dogs were coming round - which posed the problem about how do you get dogs on to a roof?,” said Mrs Eglinton, aged 64, retired head of drama at Kidderminster College.
“The police went to neighbours within a 15-minute radius and told them to go to the front of their houses and stay out of their gardens.
“But after the bomb squad arrived and went down the entry, they came back a few minutes later to say the mortar was not viable.
“I knew it was some sort of incendiary device and my brother has told me it was a 2in British mortar, which would sometimes be used by the Home Guard to light up the sky to illuminate bombers in the Second World War. Dummy ones were also used for practice, so it could have been one of those.”
Mrs Eglinton’s terraced home was originally a police house – built in 1911 for local officers.
And she believes that, at some time during the war, the mortar had crashed through the tiles and rolled down between the rafters. “I was more excited than scared,” said Mrs Eglinton, who has lived in the house for more than 20 years. “Ever since, when in my bath, I’ve thought about where it was right above me.”
It was also a case of fact imitating fiction – because Mrs Eglinton is artistic director at The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster, where the Nonentities group is currently staging the Terence Rattigan play Flare Path, about RAF Bomber Command.
“I’d have liked to keep it and put it in a cabinet at The Rose Theatre for the play,” she said.