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Home > Centenary > Events Gallery > 24 Jan - An evening with Fred and Lisa
Home > Centenary > Events Gallery > 24 Jan - An evening with Fred and Lisa

24 Jan - An evening with Fred and Lisa

Another splendid evening in the company of four teams of quizmeisters for the BGSC Centenary Quiz.
Although there were only four teams taking part, competition was fierce. The competitors preparing for the upcoming brain teasers and
There was a great turnout with over 40 club members enjoying the start to proceedings with one of Lisa's famous chilli and jacket potato suppers
Mike Pickworth hosted the evening and asked Lisa and Fred to talk about their life at Upper Bittell and some of the fascinating finds that they had made as the water levels have dropped during the work to renew the valve.
A selection of ammunition of various types including lead muskets balls, pistol and rifle ammunition and lead shot
Close up view of some more ammunition found on the South Shore
Lisa and Fred described how they had found a selection of other items. Some of which they spotted by eye such as discarded bottles, glassware and a single blue swimming flipper. Others including coins were found using their metal detector.

One of the interesting bits of glassware included a rare Codd bottle similar to the one shown. This style of bottle was designed and patented in 1872 to contain carbonated drinks. It was manufactured to enclose a marble and a rubber washer/gasket in the neck. The bottles were filled upside down, and pressure of the gas in the bottle forced the marble against the washer, sealing in the carbonation. The bottle is pinched into a special shape to provide a chamber into which the marble is pushed to open the bottle. This prevents the marble from blocking the neck as the drink is poured.
According to Fred, the range of coins they have found is worth about £12.50 in total. Presumably they were dropped from pockets or thrown into the water for luck. However, Lisa has also been researching another coin-like token she found. It is very small and has an image like a flower on one side and the letters "BM". Although it is speculation, it is possible that it was issued to one of the workers at Bittell Mill in lieu of actual currency to pay for goods.


As well as ammunition, Fred and Lisa have also found several firearms. The image to the left shows the small bolt-action rifle that was found in the wood store. It is much smaller than a standard rifle and our resident gun expert, Robin Brown, believes it may have been made for a child or alternatively used as a ratting gun. More romantically, it could have been used to bag local game by a poacher! The image also shows some of the vast collection of fishing gear that has been found including weights and bait feeders.
Even more mysteriously, Lisa got really excited when the metal detector gave a loud signal that identified a metal object lying in the mud. However, rather than the hoped-for treasure trove, it turned out to be part of what looked like a pistol. Further searching close-by revealed another piece and when it was put together it was very similar to the pistol shown in the image to the right. The find has subsequently been identified as an Italian-made M1934 Beretta semi-automatic pistol of the type issued to Italian mountain troops during WWII although quite how it found its way into Upper Bittell remains a mystery. It is possible that it was brought home as a war souvenir by a returning British solider and subsequently thrown into the reservoir as a way of disposing of it. However, some German Luftwaffe aircrew were also issued with the same version known to them as the "Pistole P671" and it may have dropped from a bomber during a raid on the nearby Austin Motor Works during the war.


The pistol has been handed over to the police and it is understood that it will be destroyed in the interest of public safety.


The evening concluded with a warming thank you by our genial host Mike Pickworth and the audience. By way of appreciation for their time and interesting stories and anecdotes, Lisa and Fred were each presented with a BGSC commemorative fleece by Rose Padmore.

Last updated 05:17 on 19 May 2018

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