What’s the worst thing you’ve dug up in your garden? Old tools? A time capsule? A 16 million-year-old whale?
Well, back in April the team at Hampton by Hilton Exeter Airport had to contend with something a lot more dangerous…
A 1,000kg German WW2 bomb.
The bomb itself was found in Exeter city centre (about 5 miles from the hotel) by builders working on land next to the University of Exeter campus. And as the Army bomb disposal experts and engineers moved in, 1,400 students and residents from 2,600 homes moved out, evacuating to safer areas.
But where could those people go?
As it happens, many of them were taken in by the Hampton by Hilton Exeter Airport hotel.
Richard Martin, Director at Propiteer Hotels, tells the story:
“We formed great relationships early on with the Procurement Director and team at Devon County Council. One morning they called us up to tell us that a bomb had been unearthed near the university and asked, ‘can you accommodate people?’. Of course, we said yes, and coachloads of people turned up that night! They were initially looking at evacuating the whole city centre, but luckily only needed to move a few thousand people.”
Once detonated (see the explosion here), the impact of the blast was, well, huge (as you’d expect from a bomb!). Debris flew at least 250 metres away. According to the Devon and Cornwall Police, “the crater is around the size of a double decker bus.”, and the explosion could be heard five miles away.
The kindness shown by the Hampton by Hilton Exeter Airport team in the face of this challenge (and all the others they’ve faced) is simply second nature to them. There’s a reason the hotel has received back-to-back “Best of the Best” awards, the Hilton CEO Global Light and Warmth Award (the company’s highest form of global team member recognition), and the Hamptonality award for going above and beyond taking care of their guests.
Why was a bomb found?
Exeter city was heavily attacked by German bombers during World War Two over 19 raids. More than 7,000 bombs were dropped, mostly in May 1942 during the Baedecker Raids.
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