Guns, grenades and German weapons: Thrapston fisherman’s incredible haul

Some of the weapons Nigel has caught.
Some of the weapons Nigel has caught.

A Thrapston fisherman has reeled in an incredible haul of antique weapons - including a cache of live grenades and guns.

Dad-of-three Nigel Lamford, 47, has recovered more than 20 guns and grenades as well as wartime bullets when magnet fishing in a 10-mile stretch of the River Nene.

Over the last three months his £140 magnet has pulled up a 1918 German Mauser handgun, a Colt Service Revolver from 1917 and a 1914 Browning high power 9mm handgun.

He’s also found a Second World War Spigot mortar, 1980s sawn-off shotguns, a Mills no.5 grenade from 1917 and a fully loaded gun magazine.

His finds have led to five police road closures and an armed police response to his home.

Click here to see some of Nigel’s finds in the Nene.

On at least five occasions a bomb disposal squad has been called to the river bank to carry out controlled explosions.

Nigel, who has been magnet fishing since October, said: “It’s shocking how many dangerous weapons are just laying on the river bed.

“They are ticking time bombs under water.

“They are better off out of the water than in there. I’ve found some grenades under bridges. You never know what could happen.

“I’ve got to be so cautious because they are just as dangerous now as they were 100 years ago.

“I get quite a buzz out of it and it’s incredibly addictive. You definitely get a kick out of it and a real adrenaline rush when you find live explosives.

“Whenever you find something you want to push yourself to go one further.

“I have been told that I have found more guns that anyone in the UK. For some reason this spot is a hot spot. It has so much potential.”

As a magnet fisherman he sends a mega magnet to the bottom of the river to fish for metallic antiques, rather than baiting a hook with a maggot.

The magnet is capable of hooking metals that weigh up to 500kg.

Whenever Nigel pulls a live explosive from the riverbed he handles them with extreme care before calling the Ministry of Defence’s bomb squad.

And each time he pulls up a gun he has had to hand it over to the police within about 24 hours - or risk being in breach of the law for weapons possession offences.

But not each trip to the river is successful and he admitted he can sometimes can spend hours searching before leaving empty-handed.

Nigel first got into magnet fishing after being encouraged to give it a go by old friends at his local pub.

His trips have turned into a family affair and his eldest son, Ethan (19), and his wife Kim (44) often join in the fun.

Nigel, who is also dad to Riley, 12 and Willow, 16, said: “I can never keep any of them for very long.

“I can give them a quick clean and take my photos before I have to phone the police.

“I do the responsible thing because they can’t be left on the side of the river or thrown back in.

“They could endanger a life. I’ve had the armed response vehicle come to collect some of the guns. When it’s anything explosive they come within a few minutes.

“I’m not proud of closing roads but it is the responsible thing to do. They are better off being blown up safely than just left there.”

Almost all of Nigel’s finds have virtually no or very little value due to how rotten or rusted they have become underwater.

Nigel has also reeled in old bikes, tools and scrap metal and he gets a kick out of clearing the local waterways and the recycling of tonnes of scrap metal.

Nigel added: “I’m hooked on it now. It’s too addictive.

“Anyone could start doing this if they wanted to with a cheap £20 magnet to get started.

“I get a lot of enjoyment out of it.”