Shoppers in Fleetwood’s Dock Street area were stunned when an army bomb disposal team appeared and approached a suspicious-looking white van.
The incident, at 10am today, occurred at the disused P&O compound on Dock Street, close to Wynsor’s World of Shoes and the Colour Banners premises.
With police and army officers on the scene, passers-by feared a major incident was occurring.
But the sinister-looking episode was not what it seemed.
It transpired that the police and bomb disposal squad had been invited by the owner of what were thought to be two high-explosive Second World artillery shells, who wanted to ensure they were safe.
The locked compound was deemed to be a suitable place for them to be examined.
it turned out that they were in fact spent training shells which were completely harmless.
Inspector Jonathan Smith, of Fleetwood Police, said: “The man approached us and wanted to ensure these things were safe.
“There was nothing suspicious about the incident and the shells were deemed harmless.”
But shoppers were still left puzzled and disturbed by the incident.
One Fleetwood man, who did not wish to be named, said: “It looked like something major was occurring.
“I just happened to be passing when the police and the army pulled up and started looking at this white van.
“I knew it was the bomb disposal team and you think the worst.
“There were quite a few people milling around so it was a bit worrying.”
PC Thomas Malley attended the scene on what was his first day at work.
He said: “It turned out the shells were not dangerous.
“If they had been live, high explosive devices, the shells would have needed to be detonated in a controlled explosion covering a 500 metres area, probably on the beach rather than the compound.”
He joked: “It was nearly an explosive start to the job!”