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163rd Boat Race Gets Green Light After ‘WWII Shell’ Removed near Putney Start

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Britain Rowing - Oxford University Boat Race Training - River Thames, London - 28/3/17 A rower trains on the River Thames near Putney Bridge soon after sunrise in London Reuters / Toby Melville Livepic  - RTX3315Y

A rower trains on the River Thames near Putney Bridge where suspected unexploded WWII shell was found

The 163rd Boat Race is expected to go ahead after a suspected World War Two ordnance was removed near the River Thames.

The Met Police confirmed the submerged item was removed by specialist officers earlier on Sunday just hours before the start of the women’s and men’s races.

It was found on the northern shore near Putney Bridge, west London, on Saturday. Experts had to wait for the tide to recede to examine the item.

Metropolitan Police Ch Insp Tracy Stephenson said: “I’m very happy to update that the ordnance has now been safely removed and the race will be going ahead as planned.

“We have been working very closely with the organisers of the boat race to plan this event which is eagerly awaited by spectators and supporters alike.”

Before retrieving the ordnance there had been plans for viewing sections along the Thames to be cordoned off by the event organisers if deemed unsafe for the expected 300,000 spectators.

 

The find was made near Putney Bridge, west London, on Saturday – a day before the traditional Spring fixture between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge men’s and women’s crews.

Earlier the device thought to be ‘submerged ordnance’ was examined on Sunday morning (2 April). Police confirmed a bomb disposal unit had to wait for the tide to go out to take a better look at it.

Police had been alerted after a member of the public saw the device near Putney Bridge, just yards from where the annual rowing event will commence.

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A map of the Putney start for the 163rd Boat Race | THEBOATRACES.ORG

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Police were called by a member of the public at approximately 1.50pm on Saturday reporting what they thought to be World War Two ordnance on the Chelsea shoreline by Putney Bridge.

“Officers including the Marine Policing Unit attended. The item is currently submerged.”

Boat race revellers expected to line the banks of the Thames to watch the duel between the two universities have been told to be vigilant after the recent Westminster terror attack.

Details of 163rd Boat Race on 2 April 2017

The official website with start date and times for 163rd Boat Race

Michelle Dite, race director of the Boat Race said: “We are very happy to update that the ordnance has now been safely removed and The Cancer Research UK Boat Races will be going ahead as planned. Thank you to the Metropolitan Police for their support.

“We look forward to some great racing and an enjoyable afternoon for spectators and supporters alike.”

Britain Rowing - Oxford v Cambridge University Boat Race Press Conference - Thames Rowing Club, Putney Embankment, London - 31/3/17 Men's University Boat Race referee Sir Matthew Pinsent during the press conference Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. - RTX33IDN

Men’s University Boat Race referee Sir Matthew Pinsent during the pre-race press conference at Thames Rowing Club, Putney Embankment, London

A BBC source said the bomb had been found by a passing sailor and was located on the Chelsea bank of the river on the north side of Putney Bridge.

The races start on the other side of Putney Bridge, with the women’s race at 16:35 BST and the men’s race at 17:35 BST.

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