What they found in Bob Hill’s Time Capsule from 1945
Family Fortunes: Bob famously flew the Hammer and Sickle over the Station House on VE Day
‘He penned, in beautiful copperplate, a four-page account summarising the state of the war and his hopes for returning servicemen’
In February 1945, Bob Hill, a mild mannered Ballymena Presbyterian and stationmaster at Dungiven, was eying up the new bus station next door and thought it fitting that a Time Capsule should be placed in the structure.
He penned, in beautiful copperplate, a four-page account summarising the building activity, the state of the war, fuel rationing and his hopes for returning servicemen. The document was witnessed by Bob’s wife Sarah and eight prominent local citizens from across the community including my father, the recently arrived young GP.
In 1958, during the IRA Border Campaign, the now UTA Station was targeted and as a small child, I watched it burn from our landing window.
When the remains of the building were finally demolished in 2001, the rediscovered capsule and its contents made local headlines.
My father, as the only locally surviving signatory, re-read Bob’s closing remarks and expressed serious doubts that any of them had really read his account in full all those years ago:
“The 21 years which have elapsed between the two world wars have provided sufficient and lasting proof of the hardship which Democracy endeavours to impose on its working-class people, so that an idle, lazy, life of wealth and plenty may be indulged in by a miserable minority, who claim for themselves the right to dictate and enforce terms of their own manufacture on the majority. It is the earnest hope of the writer, that the end of Hitlerite Germany will be accompanied by the final destruction of the plague of Democracy, and that while its corpse continues to stink that there may arise a new and socialist state after the pattern set by Marshall Stalin in the Great Soviet Union, which in 20 years has become not only the wonder but the envy of the rest of the World.”
Bob famously flew the Hammer and Sickle over the Station House on VE Day and the RUC, ever on the lookout for foreign flags, asked that it be removed, to which Bob replied that he was simply flying the flag of an ally.
A few short months later, Churchill was ousted by a Labour government. My father went on to serve as chairman of Limavady Rural District Council for the following 25 years. In 1952, the railway station closed and Bob retired back to Ballymena. Neither my father nor any of those other signatories, to my knowledge, ever displayed any communistic tendencies in the intervening years.