Hospital work digs up history

A TIME capsule has been discovered by builders working on a new hospital building – nearly 100 years after it was buried.

The historical treasure trove was found by a construction worker at the Western General as an old building was demolished to make way for the new Royal Victoria building.

It contains old photographs, newspapers and maps dating back to 1913, and was buried at the site when the building was turned into a children's home for the Craigleith Hospital and Poorhouse, which was the forerunner of the Western.

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It was sealed inside a glass jar inside a large stone, and was spotted by a construction worker who saw papers sticking out of the brickwork during demolition and alerted his foreman.

Alistair Johnston, project leader for 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.

"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 capsule was inserted into the memorial stone when the children's home was opened. At a ceremony to mark the occasion, dignitaries slid in copies of three different newspapers, a signed diary and a copy of the order of service, which included speeches and hymns.

A map of Edinburgh and minutes from a meeting granting planning permission for the project were also sealed inside.

Staff on the current building project said they were completely unaware that the time capsule had ever been created. The collection will be added to the Lothian Health Services Archive.

Laura Bruard, assistant archivist, said: "Surprisingly, given the length of time that it has been buried, the contents are extremely well preserved.

"They provide a fascinating insight into the origins of the children's home at Craigleith Poorhouse. The Edinburgh Parish Council Chairman's Committee minutes show that planning decisions then were subject to disagreement, just as much as nowadays."