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Science, Technology

Breaking News: Bomb Threat to Trowbridge, Wiltshire!

Trowbridge locals look on in disbelief - "Why can't I get to Poundland!"...

Trowbridge doesn’t seem like a likely target for terrorists. But yesterday, the centre of the town became ‘locked down’ as bomb disposal squads investigated a ‘suspect bag’.

I like the place, but a lot of people don’t. It’s the official county town of Wiltshire, a beautiful and historic region, yet Charles Moore from The Spectator described Trowbridge as a town lacking any “sign of talent, originality, workmanship, beauty or local pride”. He said the locals are “tattooed people shuffling round”. Even former front man of The Stranglers wrote a disparaging (but rather amusing) song “Don’t put me on a slow boat to Trowbridge”.

So it was with some surprise that yesterday, my afternoon shuffle to Asda was rudely interrupted by a police cordon and bomb disposal squad

Modern Day Bomb Disposal

A British Army Bomb Disposal Robot

When ‘I arrived, a camouflaged Explosive Ordnance Disposal Expert fiddled with a remote control as he piloted a bomb disposal robot; a futuristic-looking machine that looked like a squashed version of the robot from Short Circuit.
These bomb disposal robots are endearingly called ‘Wheelbarrows’ as the first prototypes were built from a wheelbarrow and a lawnmower! But years of bomb threats in Northern Ireland and more recently, Iraq and Afghanistan have propelled these bits of kit from glorified remote controlled cars to sophisticated 21st Century toys.

A peruse through a bomb disposal robot brochure will have any techno-geek drooling with excitement: Wheelbarrows’ now feature grippers, infrared cameras, microphones; they can climb stairs, fold up into a backpack and even be fitted with water cannons!

Bomb Disposal Robots can even be fitted with snow ploughs! That would make clearing the driveway a lot easier...

If you’re wondering how to get your hands on one of these, you might have to do some saving of your pocket money: They have a standard price tag of around US$200,000!

Thankfully, no-one came to harm in Trowbridge’s brush with possible catastrophe: an abandoned suitcase was exploded by Army personnel and the hoards of anxious (and tattooed) shoppers were allowed to return to their shuffling…

Read More:

You can find out more about a variety of bomb disposal robots at QinetiQ’s website.

Get the latest news reports from The Wiltshire Times

About Stuart Farrimond

I love writing about science and health subjects. Strange, because I also teach the same things. I trained as a medical doctor before turning my hand to other things. Shortlisted for The Guardian/Observer for Science Writer of the Year 2011 and editor for Guru Magazine I also like to grow large pumpkins...


12 thoughts on “Breaking News: Bomb Threat to Trowbridge, Wiltshire!

  1. Wow that must have been an exciting moment for all the “shufflers” of Trowbridge!

    You know that was my job before I worked in a lab..

    Posted by Egg | December 31, 2010, 1:33 pm
  2. haha that is me on the wheelbarrow 🙂

    Posted by Rikki | January 3, 2011, 5:19 pm
  3. Blimey, not the sort of thing you expect to see everyday! I wonder what poor person lost their suitcase and ended up having it blown up by the army? That’s got to be annoying!

    Posted by Dave @ Challenge Trowbridge Tyres | November 21, 2012, 10:26 am


  1. Pingback: Interview with a Bomb Disposal Expert: Meet the man who saved Trowbridge Town! « Doctor Stu's Science Blog - January 12, 2011

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