THE CITY centre was cordoned off over fears of an unexploded bomb.

Police were called to Valley Gardens near St Peter’s Church in Brighton shortly after lunchtime.

Witnesses recorded how the police's Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit was sent to the scene, and roads in the area were closed off. 

A "loud bang" was heard as an ordnance team detonated the device, which is believed to have been a mortar round from the Second World War, shortly before 3pm.

At first, resident Calin Ghersulescu said he had gone outside and was told by officers to go back indoors.

The Argus:

They reportedly told him they had found a suspected Second World War device, and said it could be dangerous, so a cordon was set up to divert traffic.

Nearby office worker Richard Brown said: “I nearly jumped out of my skin when it went off.

“There were three guys from the Ordnance Disposal or the military working in an area in Valley Gardens where they have been doing all the renovation work.

"There was a hole some workers had dug that had some red plastic, and that was cordoned off.

The Argus:

"They had a controlled explosion, and it was a surprise. They hadn't told us to evacuate our building, I guess if the device had been bigger they would have.

"Apart from being quite loud, it didn't really do any damage. It might have done if it was a bigger device."

Resident Harry Gibson-Clarke said: "I live opposite and had come back from the shop and the roads had started being closed off. There were lots of police officers.

"The police were blocking the road, and the bomb squad went into the trench, looked into it, measured it, and then went back to their truck.

"They set everything up and dug out an area with shovels, then covered it with sandbags.

"When it went off you could feel it, everything was shaking. It was a big bang.”

Meanwhile pub worker Adam Smith described how police cordoned off the entire area.

He said: “It was quite shocking.We were talking and wondering if we were too close to them when the explosion went off.

"We could really feel it, there was definitely a lot of adrenaline.

"I was talking to my friends and filming it, wondering what it would be like, and it was so strong I dropped the phone.

“The bomb disposal team had packed it with sandbags on top, and the explosion blew them apart.

"It was pretty unexpected. I spoke with one of the officers but they would not tell us what the device was.

The police said: "We were notified of a device – possibly an unexploded mortar – being found in an enclosed area off Grand Parade, Brighton, about 12.18pm on Monday 11 May. 

"A cordon which included the partial closure of a number of roads in the immediate vicinity was set up as a precaution. 

"The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) attended and safely carried out a controlled explosion. 
"Police were stood down from the scene as of 2.50pm."