AMMUNITION believed to be part of a collection belonging to notorious murderer Albert Dryden sparked a major police operation.

Bomb disposal units were sent to Consett town centre on Monday as well as the killer’s former home nearby in The Grove.

The Northern Echo understands bags of potentially explosive material were handed in at Consett Police Station after they were found at the Priestman Avenue property.

The building on Parliament Street was evacuated, along with the Delta North alternative education school next to it, as ordnance experts were dispatched by the Army unit based at Catterick Garrison.

Police cordoned the area off and residents were warned not to be alarmed if they heard an explosion.

A spokesman for Durham Constabulary said: “A cordon imposed after historical ammunition was handed in to Consett Police Station has now been lifted.


“The ammunition was handed in by a member of the public and, although there were no immediate concerns, the station and nearby buildings were evacuated as a precaution.

“A cordon was also put in place around the area to ensure nobody was put at undue risk, but has since been lifted.”

The spokesman said the experts from the Army’s bomb disposal unit were taking the ammunition to a remote location to be safely destroyed in a controlled detonation.

He added: “Police also attended a residential property in the Consett area as part of their inquiries into the same incident.”

Dryden, who was released from prison last October, died aged 78 in care home last month after suffering a stroke.

He was jailed after shooting dead 46-year-old Harry Collinson in June 1991 in front of reporters, photographers and camera crews when the planning officer arrived to demolish a bungalow Dryden had built illegally at Butsfield, just off the A68 to the south of Consett.

Durham County Councillor Alex Watson, who saw Dryden before his death, was the leader of Derwentside District Council at the time Mr Collinson was killed.

He said Dryden, who used a First World War pistol to shoot the planning officer as well as a policeman and a television reporter, was an avid collector of bullets and had been fascinated by weaponry.

Cllr Watson said: “Whatever has been found, I would have thought, will have been in the attic.

“It will not have been hidden away as such because he was not that sort of person.

“He collected ammunition and was always looking to buy it or get it off people.

"That was the way he was. He had this obsession with weapons and ammunition.

“So it could be part of his collection.”

The discovery of the ammunition saw Parliament Street closed to traffic on Monday morning, with police and the bomb disposal squad sent to Priestman Avenue later in the afternoon.

Delta North, which runs an alternative education programme for young people, said 56 youngsters aged 14 to 16 had been sent home from lessons.

Billy Robson, chief executive of the charity, said: “They told us to evacuate as soon as possible.

“As soon as they told us we locked the school down and got everyone of the premises.

“They are all safe and sound.


"We have practised this so it was all very cool, calm and collected.”

The incident caused some concern to residents.

Angela Mackie, who lives on West Victoria Street, said: “We heard somebody has dropped off two black plastic bags that had explosives in them.

“That is what the policeman said. We had to go out the back of the house.

“I was a bit shocked. He said ‘if you hear a bang then that is what it is’. I was worried they might blow my windows out. It is a bit scary.”