A BOMB disposal squad was called after workmen uncovered a hand grenade while installing a play park.
A street was sealed off and residents warned they would have to leave their homes after the Second World War device was unearthed in Hawthorn Square, Seaham.
Bomb disposal experts from Catterick Garrison were called after the grenade was found by Malcolm Burnip, as he worked with boss Andrew Goundry on excavation and landscaping on a new £49,000 play area yesterday.
Police put up a 100-metre cordon, sealed off Back North Terrace from traffic and blocked entry to the paths leading to the grassed square.
Officers were preparing about 30 residents for evacuation from their homes when the Army’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal squadron arrived. They confirmed the grenade was not live.
Malcolm, who works for M & JR Jackson, said: “We were rooting around in the soil and pulled up the hand grenade to the surface.
“I think I picked it up thinking it was a toy, but it was metal and quite heavy so I carried it over to Andrew and said ‘what do you reckon to this?’.
“That’s when we thought we should let the police know.”
Daniel Wilson, 25, who lives in the street, said: “It’s frightening to think about. There has been a play park on that front field for years.
“I wonder how long it has been there for?
“It’s quite exciting but makes you feel nervous at the same time.”
The bomb disposal squad was called about 9am and the incident was finished by about 10.30am.
Police had arranged for residents to go to Seaham Youth Centre in case they had to be away from their homes for any long period of time, with officers also sending their thanks to Seaham Angling Club, which volunteered its centre in South Crescent.
Work resumed on the site once the Army had given clearance.