A few days ago I answered a phone call from Craig McGuicken, Curator with Derry City Council’s Heritage and Museums Service. He told me that while doing building work on the Derry Guildhall a work crew had found a time capsule under the brickwork of the building. Inside the capsule were several newspapers of the time including; The Times, The Londonderry Standard, The Derry Journal and The Londonderry Sentinel. The Times, Standard and Journal were dated Monday, August 22, 1887 and the Sentinel Tuesday, August 23, 1887. In addition to the newspapers a set of coins (possibly the new circulation set commemorating Queen Victoria’s 1887 Golden Jubilee) and a rolled up manuscript were inside.
At some point the glass container holding these items was cracked and water leaked inside creating ideal conditions for mold growth. Three of the four newspapers were in generally good condition, the fourth; a much larger paper was more significantly damaged. As there are copies of the newspapers in archives our focus was on the rolled manuscript.
The team decided it was best to allow the scroll to dry before unrolling as one end was very wet and mold damaged. Once dry we took turns unrolling the item and placing it under light weight. For now the unrolled scroll is “resting” while a treatment plan is made in agreement with The Heritage and Museum Service. They are planning to put together an exhibition of all the items which will most likely be in the Guildhall. Further research on the history of the time capsule is taking place and a formal press release will be made within the next week.