A SECOND World war hand grenade found on a West Dorset beach sparked a huge security scare after a member of the public found it and carried it to a nearby tourist attraction.

The incident happened at 12.50pm this afternoon when a member of the public found a hand grenade on Charmouth Beach.

After finding the grenade, the beachgoer picked it up and took it to Charmouth Heritage Centre, which is on the seafront car park.

Staff at the centre immediately phoned police and coastguards who rushed to the scene and cleared the beach which was packed with tourists, before they placed a 300 metre cordon around the area and closed the main road onto the beach and the car park.

The lifeboat from the Lyme Regis RNLI was also required to help clear the sea before bomb disposal experts from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit then arrived at the beach, before destroying the grenade shortly before 5pm.

Graham Turner, station manager from the Lyme Regis Coastguard, said: “It was definitely a hand grenade. It was very, very dangerous.

“They blew it up immediately because they did not want to carry it in the back of their truck because it could have exploded at any point. It was quite a large bang when they blew it up.

“There were hundreds of people down on the beach, we even had to have the lifeboat out to move the pleasure boats away from the area.”

Mr Turner has now urged the public not to touch anything that washes up on the beaches.

He said: “The people who found it actually picked the grenade up and carried it to the heritage centre, who then did the right thing in phoning us immediately.

“If anybody has any suspicion about anything on the beach, note where it is, stand back from it and call the experts.

“The bomb disposal team said it was pretty old and pretty rusty, so it could have ended very badly for them. I wouldn't advise anyone to touch anything they think might look dangerous. If it looks dangerous it probably is.”

It is the second time in just over a month that Second World War ammunition has been found on the beach, after a Howitzer Shell was discovered at the start of March.

Mr Turner added: “The bad weather we have had and the movement of the cliffs has thrown up a lot of stuff from the wars, and there were a lot of troops based in the area during the war, so if the public do find anything, just report it.”