Time capsule found during restoration


A 19TH CENTURY time capsule containing documents and coins, which was found by stone masons working on a restoration scheme at the Guildhall in Derry, has been described by experts as an important archaeological and historical discovery.

The sealed large glass jar dates back to the laying of the foundation stone of the Guildhall on August 23rd, 1887.

The time capsule contained a sovereign, a half-sovereign, a crown piece, a double florin, a sixpence piece, a three-pence piece, a penny and a halfpenny, as well as pages from the Londonderry Journal, Londonderry Standard, Londonderry Sentineland the London Times.

The capsule had been placed in a cavity 12 inches by four inches, which was cut into the foundation stone laid 123 years ago by Sir J Whittaker Ellis, who was the then governor of the Honourable Irish Society and by the Mayor of Derry Sir Thomas Leckey.

In its edition the day after the the laying of the foundation stone, the Londonderry Journalreported that “only a few hundred ladies and gentlemen were present within the enclosure, but a large number of people collected on Shipquay Gate and Magazine Gate and the wall space between these points overlooking the place at which the foundation stone was being laid”.

Róisín Doherty of Derry City Council’s museum services department described the find as amazing.

“The last time this vessel was open, the last hands to touch these items were those people back in 1887, so it emphasises the human side to the story.

“It also symbolises the Guildhall’s position as a hub of the city for almost a century and a half.

“From an archaeological and historical viewpoint, finding these items and documents was fantastic,” she said.

Craig McGuicken, the council’s museums curator, said that the discovery of the time capsule was one of the most important historical discoveries in Derry in recent years.

“It was placed there deliberately as a time capsule.

“The Guildhall is arguably the most iconic building in the city and it was built when the city was a thriving commercial centre,” Mr McGuicken said.