The time capsule buried 176 years ago at Brooke Park, during the building of the old Gwyn’s Institute building, was opened today.
It was discovered last month as re-generation work continued at the site, which was once the home to orphan boys.
Old Derry Journal articles from 10th September 1839 were able to advise the conservator employed by Derry and Strabane District Council as to what she could expect to find inside the lead casing.
Speaking to the Journal ahead of the opening, Stefanie White explained, “It is very helpful to know what to expect inside. The parchments mentioned may not be in a state were we can read what they say, so to have the ‘Journal’ records explaining their contents is great.
“I’m very excited about opening the capsule, and while we can now expect to retrieve the items listed in the ‘Journal’ I am hopeful that there may some sort of surprise in there too.”
The ‘Journal’ records at the time - when the paper was entitled the Londonderry Journal - state that “There were then deposited in an aperture in the surface of the foundation stone one of each of the current coins of the realm, particularly those struck during the present reign; a copy of Mr Gwyn’s will, and of the Act of Parliament by which the Trustees of the Institution were incorporated; and a parchment scroll, inscribed as follows :-
“John Gwyn, Esq, who for many years was a respectable Merchant of the City of Londonderry, died on the first day of August, 1829, having by his will and testament, dated 16th may 1818, bequeathed almost the entire of his property to trustees for the purpose of feeding, clothing, educating, and apprenticing male children of the poor or lowest class of society, resident in, and belonging to, the City of Londonderry, and certain precincts around the same, as described in said will. Orphan children to be preferred.”
The time capsule was uncovered in the north-eastern corner of the excavation site last month.
Speaking after the opening of the capsule, Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Elisha McCallion said the time capsule would be a valuable piece in the Council’s archive collection.
“It was fascinating to finally see the capsule yield up its contents, and to see the conservation process first hand. The documents enclosed give an intriguing insight into life in Derry back in the early 1800s, and the institution’s benefactor John Gwyn.
“The capsule is a valuable artefact in itself and I am sure the public can’t wait to see it on display. Thanks to the work carried out by Stefanie and the Parks Management & Development and Museums Teams, we hope to see the capsule and its contents on display over the coming weeks.”