One morning in the spring of 1984 the wooden windows of Tamworth’s newly built Manor Hill estate were rattled by the sound of an explosion. It was ten past eight on a Saturday morning and my wife and I, who had been up most of night with our four month old baby, looked at each other in horror.
“What on earth was that?” we said.
In those pre internet days we had to wait until the following Friday, when the Tamworth Herald arrived to find out. There, on the front page was the explanation to our mystery explosion. The men constructing the M 42 had unearthed a German WW2 bomb right where the bridge at the junction of Trinity Road and Overwoods Road was being built. It reported, workmen had discovered an unexploded bomb at around lunchtime on the Friday and immediately sent for the army engineers while construction work was suspended. These engineers, who came from Kent, worked overnight on the 250 lb bomb. Presumably they detonated the bomb at the first reasonable hour which happened to be ten past eight on the Saturday morning, allowing them to return to Kent for the weekend. A wake up call indeed for the whole of Wilnecote!
The bridge over the M42, built where the WW2 bomb was found.
Work resumed on the M42 and it was duly completed. Shortly before it opened we had a five mile “Fun Run” along its carriageway. (They were all the rage in the 1980s). The Wilnecote to Kingsbury main road became a gated farm road along which I often still walk the dog. The remains of the municipal sign “Welcome to Tamworth” is still there, as are the “cats eyes” in the middle of this former main route to Birmingham.
Gated road and former municipal sign
If you look closely on the road’s north side near to Whateley Lane Farm you can see a crater, now overgrown with bushes and trees. I have often wondered if this is also the result of a similar WW2 bomb which did explode. After all they were seldom dropped as singles. More often they were dropped in twos or fours often impacting in a straight line. A line drawn between this “crater” and the bridge where the UXB was discovered points directly to Birmingham suggesting they overshot their intended target. The other possibility is they were overshoots from the Coventry blitz but we would need the date of impact to determine this.
Is this crater the result of a WW2 bomb?
Another view showing the circular appearance of the crater
Well, the Manor Hill estate survived and matured. The original wooden Georgian style windows have almost all been replaced. The young couples who bought these “starter homes” as they were then called have grown old or moved on. Common parlance has renamed the Manor Hill roads of Goldcrest, Kingfisher, Hawfinch and Sandpiper as the “Bird Estate” and thirty five years of inflation has priced these houses well out of reach of many young couples. The M42, though often nose to tail at peak times, has relieved Tamworth of the tankers and heavy traffic which used to trundle through the borough. As for the gated farm road, its future is in the hands of the HS2 project!