BOMB disposal experts moved into a key city centre route after a number of historical explosive devices were handed in at the front desk of a police station.

The Durham City police station in New Elvet was on lockdown yesterday afternoon after the devices were brought in by a member of the public at around 2.50pm. 

Workers from nearby offices and students from Durham University, as well as those on duty at the police station, had to be evacuated, following advice from Army bomb disposal experts from Catterick Garrison.

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A 100m cordon had to be put up around the police station while New Elvet was closed. 

A police spokesperson said it was not known what the devices were, but said they were safely destroyed.

It remains unclear where the devices had been kept, who handed them in and what they were.

Bomb disposal experts were able to remove them from the area and destroyed them in a controlled detonation at Maiden Castle sports ground, just outside the city. 

Following the incident, police warned people not to move potentially dangerous objects if they came across them. 

Chief Inspector Stephen Ball said: “If you find any potentially dangerous items that you would like to hand over to police, please leave them where they are and contact 999.

“We will attend to make sure that the items are properly and safely disposed of.”

A number of shoppers and residents congregated outside the cordon following the police activity and move to close the key city centre route. 

Students Leander Rodricks and Cait Mahoney, from Palmers Garth, said they had been taken aback by the incident.

Mr Rodricks said: “There was just loads of police vans and a bomb disposal van drove past us; they taped off most of the street and behind our accommodation.”

Publican Graeme Draper, from the Half Moon pub, in New Elvet, said: “They put the cordon up just after where we are and everyone up from us had to be evacuated so there were a lot of students milling around to see what was happening.”

An employee at Maiden Castle said: “They came down and set it off on the other side of the river. I was outside, so it was quite loud.”

The North East Ambulance Service also attended, but were not required to carry out any treatment.

Motorists faced several hours of disruption while police dealt with the incident.