AN UNEXPLODED bomb was detonated just off Southend beach this evening as a crowd of about 50 onlookers watched. 

An area of beach either side of the Sea Life Adventure Aquarium in Eastern Esplanade was cordoned off at 2pm by the police as the team of Royal Navy bomb disposal experts went to work.

However, the four soldiers were unable to take any action as the second world war shell was buried underneath the water and they had to wait for the tide to roll out.

The team were unable to move in to set up their detonator shortly after 4pm as the water had receded sufficiently for them to get to the live shell, which measured about four to five inches in size.

Businesses were closed from the gasworks jetty to the car park on Eastern Esplanade after a bait digger found the device at 6am.

A spokesman for the Royal Navy said: “Royal Navy bomb disposal experts were called to Southend after a four or five inch live shell was found just off Southend Pier.

“However, as the tide was in, could not deal with the issue until 3pm.

“A cordon of 100 metres was set up, though there was no major disruption to the public and no immediate danger."