HUNDREDS of residents in Ebberston and Allerston were evacuated from their homes yesterday to enable a huge Second World War bomb to be detonated.

It was found just 48 hours earlier in a field south of Ebberston, close to Metcalfe’s Nurseries, by enthusaists carrying out a licensed restoration project of a wartime Whitley bomber which crashed in the area in 1940.

The multi-agency operation was masterminded by North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire County Council and resulted in the A170 between the two villages being closed, and many of the 1,000 residents from the villages, being taken by coach to Snainton Village Hall and the Downe Arms in Wykeham.

However, many people made their way to the hill top Partings Farm, on the A170, to watch the spectacle of the 500lb aerial bomb being exploded by an RAF Bomb Disposal Unit.

It had been timed for 3pm, an hour after the residents were either ferried by coaches or advised to stay indoors for safety, and at 3.02pm the massive explosion was heard several miles away in the Vale of Pickering, and a huge plume of brown smoke could be seen over a wide area.

Police said the bomb had been covered in scores of large blue sandbags to control the effects of the explosition especially on the nursery greenhouses.

The only casualty of the day’s drama was the Ebberston Women’s Institute’s 90th anniversary exhibition in the village hall.

The hall was filled with memorabilia and floral displays for the day-long exhibition, said leading member, Daphne Vasey.

However, while it opened at 10am, it had to close for several hours, but was re-opened later in the afternoon. Miss Vasey said she could remember the aircraft crashing when she was a small girl. The parish council held a meeting on Monday night to discuss the bomb’s discovery and the explosion plans when they were told that about 100 sand bags and straw bales would be used to minimise the effects of the explosion. Acting assistant chief constable, Steve Read had given assurances to the residents that all steps would be taken to protect them, their livestock and property. It was, he said, “an essential operation” which had been carried out safely and speedily. Jane de Wend Fenton, who represents Thornton-le-Dale on Ryedale District Council and lives in Ebberston, said: “The operation to deal with this bomb has been put together very quickly but it has been done in a very professional and sensible way.”