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


    TheFirearmBlog.com – Managing Editor
    OvertDefense.com – Managing Editor

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. He also runs Historical Firearms, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of The Armourer’s Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms.

    Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]