A GARDENER uncovered a stash of dynamite as he dug a ditch.
The worried man called police after discovering what he called “candle-shaped objects” under the earth of his back garden in The Avenue, Murton.
The first officers on the scene alerted bomb disposal experts from Catterick, who recovered 40 of the Nobel-branded sticks from the soil.
The dynamite was found just inches away from a gas pipe.
However, Durham police say residents were not in danger and that measures to reduce risk were put in place during the operation.
After removing the explosives to a secure location overnight, the Army took them to the beach at Dawdon and carried out a controlled explosion yesterday morning.
Sergeant Jim Peel, of Seaham Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “The man had been digging a trench when he dug and found these 40 sticks.
“We took a look at what was in the ground and called in the bomb disposal team and they carried out the removal before it was taken to the Blast Beach.
“The man who lives in the house bought it a few years ago.
“It’s believed a man who used to be a pit manager used to live there, and this could have come from one of the collieries in the area.
“He did the right thing by calling us in.
“It’s amazing he found this by digging in his garden.”
The explosives, found at 6.30pm on Tuesday, were packaged in paper bearing the Nobel of Glasgow label.
Alfred Nobel created dynamite after experiments with nitroglycerine.
He tried out different additives, so it could be set in to tubes and used in the blasting process along with a detonator he also invented.
Nobel, whose annual Peace Prize honours academics for their achievements, launched the British Dynamite Company in Ardeer, Scotland, in 1871, later renaming it Nobel’s Explosives Company, four years after he had patented the explosive.
The incident in Murton comes less than two weeks after the team from Catterick were called to Hawthorn Square in Seaham, after landscapers found a Second World War hand grenade as they carried out work on a play area.
The evacuation of homes had just got under way when the Army assessed the bomb, but found it was not live.