A YOUNG boy’s first fishing expedition is not a story about the one that got away – it’s about the one that caused police to seal off a popular footpath between Sonning and Reading.
On Saturday, September 14, nine-year-old Joseph Creighton had been taken to the Kennetside towpath in Reading by family friend Simon French.
The pair weren’t armed with hook and tackle but powerful magnets aimed at catching metal that had been dropped into the river.
During their fishing expedition, they found an axehead, several spoons and other discarded pieces of metal, but it was their last find that led to the police presence: an unexploded shell.
Joseph said: “This was my first time magnet fishing, I was enjoying myself.
“I threw the line into the water, it made a splash and then a noise as it hit the case of the shell. Some other people who were there magnet fishing helped me get it out of the water.”
Mr French added: “When I got it out, I said I think I know what this is. I washed it off and said, yes, I know what this is.
“I put it to one side, walked away and called 101, the non-emergency helpline. They sent the police down.
“While it could be a live shell, the chances are that it won’t go off as it’s been in the river for so long, it’s pretty safe.”
The police arrived within minutes and first cordoned off a large area around the towpath, but reopened the area to allow the waiting pedestrians to get past. They guarded the shell while awaiting experts to assess how to safely dispose of it.
Among those waiting were volunteers from SOAR – Save Our Ancient Riverside – who had been tidying up the area around the historic horseshoe bridge following their successful campaign to prevent the area being turned into a single lane bus bridge. They had pledged at the time Wokingham Borough Council’s planning committee rejected the scheme that they would maintain the area, which they are now doing.
They had collected several bags of recycling including more metal and a bike.
And young Joseph has not been put off magnet fishing by the experience.
“I’m going to try and get better at it and get lots of more metal,” he said.