Time capsule gives snapshot of life in 1901

Trainee transformation archivist Jane Williams and archives manager Alex Miller, with some of the objects found in the time capsule
Trainee transformation archivist Jane Williams and archives manager Alex Miller, with some of the objects found in the time capsule

A collection of everyday objects preserved in a time capsule have given historians a glimpse of everyday life more than 100 years ago.

The items, which were stored in a glass bottle, were found along with the foundation stones of Tyldesley Chapel during the building’s demolition.

This is a lovely little collection

Archives manager Alex Miller

The time capsule was buried during the establishment of the day and Sunday schools at the chapel on Upper George Street in 1901.

The bottle contained copies of local newspapers, documents about the laying of the foundation stones and the building’s opening, the chapel’s trust deeds, a small collection of Victorian coins and a card about Thomas Bridge, the local man who came up with the idea of the time capsule.

Now in the care of the borough’s archives, the contents have been extricated from the bottle’s confines, painstakingly cleaned and placed online for those interested in the past to look at.

Archives manager Alex Miller said: “This is a lovely little collection. Some of the documents we haven’t necessarily had before because the other copies haven’t survived through the chapel itself, so to get those is great.

“It gives a nice snapshot of how people commemorated the construction of a new building. People still put little time capsules in buildings now, not knowing who’s going to open them in 100 years’ time or whenever.

“It was quite challenging to get all the items out of the capsule without smashing the bottle. Everything had been folded up to get it through the funnel and the newspapers were tied up with string which had deteriorated and then expanded, so we had to be very careful.

“They were constructing a new building for the town which would take the local children and educate them, and commemorated it with a few mementoes of the day and memories of the fund-raising process they went through.

“Like quite a lot of buildings at the time it was funded through public subscription, so there are notes about people who contributed sums of money small and large.”

The card shows the time capsule was prepared by the 27-year-old Mr Bridge, though sadly does not give a great deal of other information about him.

The foundation stone of the new school was laid on Saturday, June 29 1901 with local justice of the peace Charles Eckersley Esq as the guest of honour for the ceremony.

The foundation stone from the historic building has also been preserved and the archives service is currently working with local ward representative Coun Stephen Hellier to find a suitable new location for it.

The documents have all been digitised and are available to view online here

Anyone who would like to look at the original items as part of their research can get in touch with the Leigh Town Hall archives and arrange to visit.