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Page last updated at 15:18 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 16:18 UK
The bomb collector of Penistone

John Ownsworth has hundreds if not thousands of munitions in his collection

Some people collect stamps, some collect medals or other war paraphernalia. But John Ownsworth from Penistone collects bombs.

John's house is hard to miss. There is a (deactivated) naval mine in the garden and anti-tank obstacles amid the flowers by the garden path.

Two rooms at the back of the house are dedicated to the arsenal of bombs, shells, mortars, hand grenades, machine gun cartridge magazines and other militaria which John has collected over three decades.

Some objects he bought but many he found while walking on the moors near Penistone with his metal detector: "Most people don't realise how important Penistone and the Peak Park have been to the military during the last 100 years or more," explains John.

This RAF fighter jet crashed on Kinder Scout during a training exercise in the 1950s

"Several decades ago, a work colleague told me about an aeroplane crash site on the moors. I went for a look with my wife and kids and another gang of chaps who were also interested told me about other aeroplane crash sites.

"I came across lots of different munitions on the moors and I became interested in how they came about."

John says there are several hundred, possibly thousands, of bombs in his collection and he is keen for it to stay together in a safe place.

As well as shells, grenades and cartridges John has a cockpit from an RAF fighter jet which crashed on Kinder Scout during a 1950s training exercise, and his coffee table is fashioned from a German cross-channel gun cartridge.

Most of the collection dates from World War 1 and World War 2 but there are some older objects such as a Stone Age flint arrowhead which is over 5000 years old.

Danger - Live Bombs - Keep Out sign
John says that despite the signs, there are no live munitions in the collection

Despite various warning signs around the house, John assures us that there is nothing dangerous in the collection:

"Nothing is live. Most of the ones on the moors were inert munitions. I found some which were live but of course you can't bring those home."

John did fall foul of one of the 'inert' bombs though, and had a serious accident:

"I bought a collection off a chap and they were all supposedly inert. I was cleaning them all up when the next-to-last one exploded and blew my hand off. It was a 20mm German explosive shell."

John continued collecting despite his accident, but as he gets older he feels he would like someone to relieve him of his collection and he would love it to be kept nearby:

Bomb collector John Ownsworth from Penistone
Bomb collector John Ownsworth wants the munitions to stay in Penistone

"I'm getting a bit long in the tooth and I'm wondering what to do with it when I'm gone. I'd like it to be kept together and I'd really like it to be kept in Penistone.

"I will miss the munitions after having them for so many years but the collection has got to go somewhere at some time. I don't want to go and die and then my kids or wife go and sell it to the scrap man!

"There's a museum in Hull - Fort Paul - who would like to take it. It sounds like they've got a nice set-up and I'm going to go and see it. If nothing happens at Penistone then it will probably go somewhere like that."

If you have any ideas about a home for John's collection, get in touch with BBC Radio Sheffield: 0114 273 1177.


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