Dumfries woman finds message in bottle from 1960s

Jools Cox from Borgue with the message in a bottle. Picture: HemediaJools Cox from Borgue with the message in a bottle. Picture: Hemedia
Jools Cox from Borgue with the message in a bottle. Picture: Hemedia
FOR more than five decades, its journey has been a mystery known only to the tides and currents of the Solway Firth.

But now, a message in a bottle penned by a schoolboy in the 1960s has been discovered – just yards from where he dropped it into the waters of the Kirkcudbright coastline.

Residents in the Dumfries and Galloway community are being asked to rack their brains to track down the sender of the message.

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Only those with a long memory are likely to be of assistance, however – the sender penned the note in 1961, when John F Kennedy took up residence in the White House and Yuri Gagarin ­became the first man in space.

The author, one George ­Grierson, was five when he threw the bottle into the firth, in the hope it would one day reach a far-flung island on the other side of the world.

Today he would be about 58 years old, having presumably given up hope of receiving a reply long ago, along with child’s play in general.

The recipient of the message, Jools Cox, stumbled across the 53-year-old bottle while she and friends were carrying out a clean-up of local beaches following the winter storms.

The 63-year-old was removing debris on the shore of ­Kirkandrews Bay when she ­noticed the bottle.

By its condition, she could tell it had been in the water for a considerable time.

The environmental consultant recalled: “It was very exciting and I showed the bottle to my friends.

“I took it home and dried the bottle out first and then carefully got the letter out with a pair of chopsticks.

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“It looked as if it has been sitting there a long time because of the moss sitting around it.”

After carefully opening the letter, she discovered the handwriting of a youngster.

It stated: “Dropped into sea at Knockbrex on Tuesday 17 ­October 1961 by George ­Grierson age five years, Knockbrex ­Estate, Borgue, Kirkcudbright.”

It added optimistically: “Finder please reply to St Cuthberts School [sic], Kirkcudbright.”

Since finding the message last week, Mrs Cox, from Castle Douglas, has launched a detective hunt to locate Mr Grierson.

So far, the search has proved fruitless, but she is not ­giving up.

She said: “When I read the letter and saw the name, George Grierson, I tried to look up the name in the phone book but I couldn’t find anyone.

“My friend who lives in Borgue – where the boy would have lived – asked some older people if they could remember anyone of that name but they couldn’t.”

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Mrs Cox said she did not believe the bottle had come very far in the past five ­decades, given that it would have been dropped in the sea around the corner from the shoreline where it ­re-emerged.

Mystery surrounds Mr Grierson’s whereabouts. According to the electoral roll there are 16 people resident in Britain who go by the name, two of whom live in the town of Sanquhar, about 60 miles north of where the bottle washed ashore.

The possibility remains, however, that the George Grierson in question has long since ­emigrated – travelling further than his humble message. Whatever his fate, Mrs Cox said she would love to reunite him with the ­letter from his childhood self.

She added: “It would be ­really exciting to meet George and give him the bottle.

“You hear about people ­finding a message in a bottle but you don’t expect to find one yourself.

“It would be lovely – it would be really nice. I’m sure he would be interested to see it once again.”