Father & Son Dredge Weapons Cache from UK River

Neil & Billy Hopkins pose with some of the weapons they dredged from a Somerset river (Somerset Live)

A father and son from Somerset, UK made a surprising discovery while dredging a local river for scrap with a magnet. They pulled up parts from dozens of rifles, pistols, machine guns and shotguns.

Neil Hopkins and his son Billy’s rusted haul included parts from an AK, two M16s, an M1 Garand, a Bren gun, a Lee-Enfield Rifle No.4, several StG-44s and a number of older pistols and bolt action rifles. It took the pair 4 hours to pull up the guns from the river they were dredging Grey Lake, Kingsweston Sluice, near Street in Somerset. Take a look at the photos below and see what you can identify:

The Hopkins’ impressive haul laid out at their home, what can you spot?  (News Group Newspapers Ltd)

Over 30 gun parts were found, a quick scan of the photos shows everything from pocket pistols to what looks like the butt stock from an M1919A6 light machine gun. One photo shows the Hopkins’ attempt to piece together some of the weapons, inadvertently creating an AK-Lee-Enfield hybrid and a StG-BAR mutant.

This isn’t the first time the river has given up its secrets, back in 2015 and even larger cache of weapons was dredged up by kids. Parts from some 80 weapons were found including everything from MG42s to Czech Vz.25 submachine gun and a BAR.

Some of the guns pulled from the river by police divers, various bolts, magazines and barrels as well as a number of AR-15 stocks and a stock from a PARA FAL and the lower half of what looks like a French MAT-49 SMG. (ITV West Country)

Billy collected the guns and showed them off to friends in his garden before handing them over to local police. A dive team from Avon and Somerset Police then took over the salvage operation finding even more weapons.

Some failed attempts to piece together the finds, resulting in a Bren-M1919 and a StG-BAR (News Group Newspapers Ltd)

As always the British press are blissfully ignorant when it comes to firearms and inevitably make a number of mistakes about the firearms present. One article describes an M16 as the IRA’s favourite weapon nicknamed the ‘widowmaker’, confusing it with the AR18. Another suggests the guns came from a nearby WWII weapons factory – when its clear that half the guns date from after the war.

An AK-Lee-Enfield and other assorted parts, what can you identify? (News Group Newspapers Ltd)

As for where the guns came from and how they ended up at the bottom of the river there are a number of theories. The local police suggested they dated from WWII, while Mr Hopkins believed they might have been dumped by the IRA or terrorists. Due to the scope and breadth of the collected weapons I think the most likely origin of the weapons is an illegal private collection. It is likely that as Britain’s firearms laws changed the collection of live, and in many cases full-auto, firearms became to hot too handle and the collector sadly disposed of their guns in the local river.

Matthew Moss is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written for a variety of publications in both the US and UK he also runs www.historicalfirearms.info, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matthew is also co-founder of www.armourersbench.com, a new video series on historically significant small arms.


  • James


  • Alejandro Galvan

    C.E.T.M.E. Mod. B.
    Stg 44.
    Some Parabelum P.08
    Beretta 34/35

    Browning 1919A6 buttstock
    Armalite AR15 (red brown buttstock)
    PPSH41 buttstock
    Mauser rifle
    Garand rifle

    I think it was a no-so-much-legal-collector with no wish of legal problems…..

    • I don’t think that’s an AR15… I think it’s an AR10…

      • Alejandro Galvan

        Ups, a typo, my fault….

  • Mitch

    Wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to find that they’ve both been convicted of possession, and are now serving consequent life sentences for each piece found.

    • Peter Nissen

      Sounds like what would happen in Australia!

  • Major Tom

    I noticed a FAL in the collection. Maybe L1A1 type. (Stock and lower receiver missing. Lower right hand part of first pic.)

  • Tim

    This is why “tragic boat accidents” are inadvisable.

    • Timmah_timmah

      eh? do explain sir

  • Nicks87

    I hope he called the police immediately before some hyperventilating politician finds out and the media tries to portray him as some sort of right wing extremist.

  • Dougscamo

    Definitely lost in a tragic boat accident….

    • Evan

      Tragic is right

  • Vincent

    This to me is the equivalent of tossing a bag of puppies in the river.
    Would have loved that M1.
    Good lord those poor things.

    And it’s always a slightly annoying treat to read the news report and look at the dramatizations, identification mistakes and probably the word “sickening” pop up a lot like in an old news snippet I read once talking about a child killing .22 short and how it can go off by itself sitting on the floor.

    • Markius Fox

      “A disgusting military grade arsenal of fully automatic assault weapons and rocket launchers was found at the residence of Joseph McSniffleson. Among the weapons of war, a Glank Fortee, known on the street as an ‘Equation Cruncher’…” *picture of a crude home shop tube gun*

  • Vhyrus

    Wow somebody actually did have a boating accident.

    • Timmah_timmah

      It happens!

  • Matt O

    Most of those look like they were cut at the chamber or locking lugs. I suspect they were deactivated before being dumped

    • A a conscientious collector might well think that was the best thing to do before dumping. Must have been painful.

      • Peter Nissen

        Given the awful attitudes in Australia to guns, gun collecting and shooting in general – I would prefer throwing the collection into the river rather than my fav pieces being smelter into pig iron and deny the bastards having the satisfaction of destroying historical pieces.

  • atfsux

    That M-16 lower receiver is actually an AR-10, probably a Dutch or Sudanese model. You can tell by the magazine well. The opening, rather than angled, is flat and level.

  • So, how many felony weapon possession charges have they been hit with?

    • The Forty ‘Twa

      Felonies haven’t existed in English law since 1967!

      • But then how do they know to throw the book at anyone caught owning anything sharper than a witty retort???

        • The Forty ‘Twa

          The day I see them throwing the book at anyone is the day pigs might fly.

          We have mandatory minimum sentences for knife crime in Scotland but folks go way over and above what is required for the mandatory minimum (for example stabbing and seriously injuring people) and still don’t even get the mandatory minimum.

          • Timmah_timmah

            Lot of good that is doing then. What is the damn point of that? (No pun intended)

          • The Forty ‘Twa

            The prisons are full so they come up with stupid reasons not to jail people.

            For something like assaulting a police officer say (…), the Sheriff’s sentencing remarks usually go something like this:

            “This was a despicable attack upon two police officers for which the only appropriate punishment open to this court is a custodial sentence.

            However, the prisons are all full up so here is a list of utterly ludicrious reasons why you won’t be going to prison.

            Now we all know you probably won’t bother doing any of the community service that I am going to impose upon you but don’t worry, you won’t be punished if you do.

            I am also going to award both constables a derisory amount of compensation which will be paid at the rate of 50p a week.

            This sentence shows how seriously I regard assaults upon police officers and given the pathetic sentence you have received for it you will no doubt refrain from knocking a police officer unconcious again in the future.”

            I’m still waiting for the first installment of the compensation…

        • Paul Rain

          You can get years in prison for misplacing bacon or saying mean things to holy protected classes. Basically, anything the Socialist Workers Party disapproves of is an aggravating factor.

          • Well, to be fair, Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

    • phuzz

      Somerset cops are pretty chill.

  • codfilet

    Welded-up weapons similar to these were legal at one time in the UK. Perhaps these were not even “live” firearms when they were dumped-who knows?

    • The Forty ‘Twa

      Deactivated weapons are still perfectly legal. Can’t see why you’d ditch them all if they were deactivated.

      • Maybe it’s a cache of weapons confiscatedby a police agency that couln’t afford to rent proper destructive equipment to either crush or melt them, and substituted “cut the receiver and dump ’em in a lake”?

        • The Forty ‘Twa

          Nah, that would breach far too many environmental regulations. It would be easier to get somebody to sign off on carpet bombing a neighbouring county than dumping stuff in the Somerset Levels. There will probably be a rare species of toad that lives there or something.

      • codfilet

        I wasn’t sure if they still were.

  • Texas Irregular

    I see the always popular AR-47 the “Window Dresser” in 40mm. Possibly a Glock 7 as well the ceramic holds up well in water.

    • Timmah_timmah

      see what you did there

  • Larry Thomas

    More cosmoline! More cosomoline wrap, another layer of cosmo, more wrap, ect…

  • Alex Agius

    ” It is likely that as Britain’s firearms laws changed the collection of
    live, and in many cases full-auto, firearms became to hot too handle and
    the collector sadly disposed of their guns in the local river.” – I doubt it,actual full auto (not burst guns) were banned in 1934 so unless this gu has m16s and fals in the ’30s and these are FA these were always illegal. The IRA thing makes sense tbh, due to the diversity of arms

    • Timmah_timmah

      Agreed. This was no legal collection at any time. Any legal collector would donate them or dispose of them as required by the authorities. It is highly likely this was IRA or organized crime of some manner.

      • I have a feeling this is way too eclectic to have been any sort of IRA or criminal cache.

        • Jonathan Ferguson

          I have two words for you; ‘Mr Webley’…

  • James Young

    In case the Feds don’t believe your story about the tragic boating accident that led to the loss of ALL your firearms…here’s proof that it happens

    • Chris Miller

      I was about to say, someone had a tragic boating accident in Britain shortly after 1996.

  • Jeff Heeszel

    I’ve been watching a Russian YT channel that live streams their WW2 battle site digs. They find a lot of live grenades, mortars, complete Mosins, PPSHs, anti-tank rifles, and human remains. The channel is called Юрий Гагарин (Yuri Gagarin). Well worth watching!

  • Kelly Jackson

    This photo was taken just before they each received 15 to 20 years in prison for possessing these firearms.

  • J-

    “The father and son team have been arrested by British police for illegal possession of firearms.”

  • in Canada police use to dispose of seized firearms by throwing them off a bridge into deep water…

  • DanGoodShot

    I just died a little inside… 😔

  • Asdf

    For when the British regain their rights, this will be remembered as a sad holiday.

  • Justin Roney

    Besides the obvious horror of such a collection being cut up and dumped, the not-so-obvious horror is the people of Britain being willing to live in submission by having their freedom labeled illegal. That makes me even more sad than the pictures.

  • bernardg

    That FN FAL foregrip and barrel though…. so sad.

  • The Forty ‘Twa

    The Huffington Post, Daily Mail and BBC links all relate to a different find.

  • William M Durham

    What a waste of gret weapons. Only in England where the criminals and terrorist have all the fire power and the poor cops have a very limited number of small weapons to protect the public. But when a murder does not cost but maybe 20 years in jail life cannot have such a great value. Feel sad for the good people of this once great nation now condemned bys its own generosity and caring, now flat full of greedy hateful refugees and foreign legal admissions who do not want to be part of a new great Nation but establish a place that looks and feel like the cesspool that they left.

  • HubbaBubbaD

    So cool

  • Julio

    I thought this was OLD news. the story is from February 2015. and I think TFB covered it then. Talk about dredging up old relics!

    • The Forty ‘Twa

      It is a new story, the one from 2015 was a different find.

  • iac4357 .

    STGs ?!
    What a historic waste !