Back to the future

School reveals contents of 119-year-old time capsule, writes Tom Barnes

Buxton School time capsule

With the contents of the time capsule are (from left to right) competition winner Malcom Barrall, Mark Alford and Bob Cook from construction firm Bowmer & Kirkland, and Buxton School students Esa Bhaji and Imaan Bhaji

The contents of a 19th Century time capsule were revealed at the grand unveiling of Buxton School’s new building.

A glass bottle containing the hidden treasure was discovered in the rubble of brickwork of the old building when it was demolished back in May. Former Buxton School student Dawn Butler – now the Labour MP for Brent – were among guests at the £20m building’s opening, when the time capsule’s content were also revealed.

Inside they found two newspapers, The Standard and The Stratford Express, dating back to May 1899, and a programme of events from the opening of the former Cobbold Road School that same year.

The Stratford Express was a newspaper that covered Leyton, Leytonstone, Wanstead, Woodford, and Walthamstow, for 145 years until 2011. The Standard still exists today and has been delivering news to Londoners since 1827.

After its opening by Wanstead School board in 1899, Cobbold Road was reopened as two schools in 1925 – Cann Hall Primary and Tom Hood – before joining together again as Buxton School in 2010.

Dawn Butler said: “It is wonderful to see that the diversity and community spirit which made this such a special school when I attended remains to this day.

“We were all witness to a special piece of history when the bottle was opened for the first time in 119 years. I am really pleased that they have decided to bury their own time capsule for future generations to discover.”

Three winners of a ‘write a letter to the future’ competition were given the honour of opening the time capsule. Their letters will be among a host of items buried as a new time capsule at the school’s new building for future generations to discover.

Imaan Bhaji, who wrote one of the winning letters for the new time capsule, said: “I wanted the opportunity to share what it is like to be a young person in 2018 to future generations. I included lots of information on what we do in our leisure time on social media but also important issues of the day such as the Grenfell Tower fire.”

Fellow winner Malcolm Barrall, 74, said: “My children attended this school so I have a real connection to the school and site. Knowing that my letter will be read by future generations really makes you feel part of the history of the school and the community.”