1887 time capsule contents go on display

�/Lorcan Doherty Photography
�/Lorcan Doherty Photography

Contents of a 126 year old time capsule have gone on display at Derry’s Guildhall.

Discovered by contractors working on the stonework as part of the recent Guildhall Restoration project, the capsule dates from 1887.

Among the items preserved inside are copies of Londonderry Standard, a copy of the London Times, from August 23, 1887, new coinage of the realm, including sovereign, half-sovereign, crown piece, double florin, half-crown six pence, three-penny piece, penny and halfpenny.

A statement concerning the building of the then town hall, with the names of Irish Society and of the corporation were also found inside the capsule.

The discovered manuscript, detailing the history of the building when found was damp and in a badly damaged state when found and through months of painstaking conservation work at the Derry and Raphoe Diocesan Library Project and has now been framed for public exhibition on the first floor of the Guildhall alongside the glass case of the contents on the first floor landing of the Guildhall.

“The time capsule is a fantastic discovery for the city and it is an amazing find for this to re-emerge after 120 years, its contents providing a fascinating insight into life at the time, showing the city as a thriving commercial centre,” Roisin Doherty, Head of Derry City Council’s Heritage and Museum Services said.

“The newspapers of the day, dated August 23 1887 carry numerous advertisements for shipping lines, reflecting how some of the commercial success of that time was built on emigration from Ireland to North America.

“Reading the newspaper descriptions of the final construction of the then Town Hall and seeing the photographs of the ceremony really brings it all to life and it reinforces the Irish Society link with the City and with the Guildhall in particular this year also celebrates the 400th anniversary of this link and the building of the City’s historic walls.”

Derry’s Mayor Martin Reilly said the discovery said a comment thread linked the Derry of 1887 to the city as it is today.

“The last time this capsule was open, the last hands to touch these items were those people back in 1887. An extremely interesting find in the time capsule was the hand-written manuscript which sets out the history to the building of the Guildhall. It’s interesting as we know the original Guildhall was built on reclaimed land, and in some ways was a form of regeneration, built at a time of growing economic power in the city.

“Now in 2013 the year in which we celebrate as the inaugural City of Culture, with the building still at the heart of city recently received a magnificent makeover, the city as a whole is undergoing a period of significant regeneration too.”