THIS is the moment a diver – intent on helping to clear rubbish from the River Great Ouse – emerged with a World War I mortar bomb.

Bomb disposal experts had to be called to St Ives after Pete Wadsworth lifted the bomb from the river, thinking it was an old car part.

EXPLOSIVE DISCOVERY: Diver, Pete Wadsworth with the World War I mortar bomb found in the river at St Ives. Picture: NIGEL SPROWELL.

THIS is the moment a diver - intent on helping to clear rubbish from the River Great Ouse - emerged with a World War I mortar bomb.

Bomb disposal experts had to be called to St Ives after Pete Wadsworth lifted the bomb from the river, thinking it was an old car part.

He then got the shock of his life when he realised he was holding a grenade.

Mr Wadsworth was among the divers from the St Ives Sub-Aqua Club who had been taking part in a river clean-up on Saturday when they discovered the explosive device under the town bridge at about 1pm.

They called the police and bomb disposal experts took the object up-stream past the Dolphin Hotel and to Hemingford Meadow where a controlled explosion was carried out.

Mr Wadsworth, 41, of Greenfields, St Ives, told The Hunts Post he was shocked by the find.

"At first I had no idea what it was - I thought it was a car part.

"Then when I held it up out of the water I thought it looked it a grenade or a bomb, and thought to myself should I really be holding this and what do I do with it now?'

"I have dived that part of the river before, but I've never found anything like this. It is the strangest object I've ever found while diving."

Mr Wadsworth, who took up diving five years ago, added: "The bomb disposal experts said I was lucky as sometimes when these devices are disturbed they can go off.

"They said it could have blown me out of the water."

The river clean-up was organised by the Friends of Holt Island Nature Reserve.

Ian Jackson, chairman of the friends, said: "I hoped that a community effort to clear litter from the island and the banks through the town would create some publicity, but I never dreamt the afternoon would end with an explosion."

Mr Jackson added: "Litter picking was halted, Hemingford Meadow was sealed off and a crowd gathered for the countdown.

"The resulting detonation sent clods of earth hundreds of feet into the air and the boom reverberated around the town.

"So much for a quiet afternoon's litter picking!

"But it was a job well done and the river is not only cleaner, but also a much safer place for wildlife and people."

Other items found during the river clean-up included four shopping trolleys, four bicycles, six traffic cones, a floodlight and a microwave.