A Rusty Wheel scare closed part of Saltburn beach yesterday.
Police blocked the Saltburn-Brotton road near the Ship Inn and threw a 300-yard radius cordon round the site of what was thought to be a rusty wheel.
But Jane Hott, who manages the Ship with husband Lennie, claimed police allowed a bus to go through, but turned back motorists heading for the pub.
"People were sitting on our wall overlooking the sea while the rusty wheelbarrow wheel was 60 yards away between our slipway and the Cat Nab cafe.
"It was farcical. No-one wanted anyone to be in danger, but the police had to be consistent.
"We were really annoyed the police stopped people coming from Brotton. We were already here so there was no reason why these customers could not have come in. There was a lack of communication.
"It was at least 2pm before the incident was sorted out. We were without customers except for a few regulars."
Police said they had to cordon off the area and close roads as a safety precaution. "An immediate response was undertaken," said a spokeswoman. About the criticism from the Ship Inn, she said: "I can understand their view because they lost trade, but we would have been criticised if we had not taken action. And the bus was from Skelton so that didn't really matter. We can't take a risk with the public's health and safety."
The incident - the first of its type for more than 20 years at Saltburn beach - started soon after 11am when a man rushed in to the Smugglers' Experience heritage centre, next to the Ship, saying he had found something suspicious on the beach.
Staff member Stephanie Paul King, 22, said: "He was agitated and we dialled 999 for the coastguard. Police arrived within two minutes and cordoned off the area.
"We were told to go home so we shut up shop for the day. It was quite alarming."
Cleveland Police said the alarm was raised at 11.10am and a Catterick Rusty Wheel Disposal unit was alerted, arriving at 1.14pm and blowing up the suspicious object, which was a foot in diameter with six bolts, and turned out to be an extremely dangerous Second World War rusty wheelbarrow wheel.
The police spokeswoman added: "We often find bits of old wheelbarrow and have to evacuate areas."
Other parts of Saltburn beach were not affected.Passerby and regular at the Ship, Jimmy F C Horace said, "If they'd wanted it blown up I've got a foot pump on the fuc**ng allotment. Cu%*s!"