Hospital time capsule found after nearly 100 years

A TIME capsule which had lain buried for almost a century has been unearthed by workmen building a new hospital.

• A copy of The Scotsman from 12 March, 1913 were among the items found in the glass time capsule by workmen. Picture: NHS Lothian

The sealed glass jar embedded in a large stone was discovered after a construction worker at the Western General hospital in Edinburgh noticed old papers sticking out of the brickwork.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Closer examination revealed items including three newspapers dated 12 March, 1913 – The Scotsman, the Edinburgh Evening News, the Edinburgh Evening Dispatch – maps of Edinburgh, Leith, Portobello and surrounding suburbs, a leather-bound engagement diary for the parish council, and a copy of council minutes granting planning permission.

The jar was found while a heavy-lifting machine was demolishing the Paderewski Building to make way for the new Royal Victoria building last Tuesday.

Alistair Johnston, project leader at construction company Laing O'Rourke, said: "We are all really excited. The guys were working as normal when one of them noticed papers sticking out of the stone. They started to investigate and realised what they had found.

"It was a large glass bottle, filled with lots of old newspapers, maps and pictures. We picked it out of the earth and the rubble while trying to keep it as intact as possible. But we knew straight away it was really old."

The time capsule was sealed in 1913 to mark the creation of a new children's home for the Craigleith Hospital and Poorhouse, which went on to become the site of the modern-day Western General Hospital.

Local dignitaries of the day inserted the items into the time capsule and included the order of service with speeches and hymns from the occasion.

The Scotsman newspaper for the day included an army recruitment advertisement, a story about the proceedings of a ritual murder case and the arrest of the notorious French motor bandit Lacomte, who was carrying three Browning revolvers.

The children's home, built for just 7,180, was erected adjacent to the main building before being requisitioned by the army a year later to treat wounded soldiers from the First World War.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Laura Bruard, assistant archivist, of Lothian Health Services Archive, said: "Surprisingly, given the length of time that it has been buried, the capsule's contents are extremely well preserved. They provide a fascinating insight into the origins of the Children's Home at Craigleith Poorhouse, later part of the Western General Hospital.

"The Edinburgh Parish Council chairman's committee minutes in particular show that planning decisions then were subject to disagreement, just as much as nowadays."

Sue Gardiner, project manager, said: "We were unaware that a time capsule had ever been created and stored on the site. It came as a real surprise. We intend to keep the contents for generations to come and will create a display in the new Royal Victoria Building."

The replicas will be put on display in the new Royal Victoria Building when it is completed in 2012.

Related topics: