Mechanics' Institute Time Capsule

As part of the ceremonial laying of the foundation stone of the Mechanics' Institute, Northumberland Street, on 5 October 1859, a "hermetically-sealed leaden box" was placed inside a hollow in the stone.

The contents of the time capsule were reported to include:

  • a copy of Charles Hobkirk's recently published book, Huddersfield: Its History and Natural History
  • copies of the Times, Leeds Mercury, Huddersfield Chronicle and Huddersfield Examiner newspapers
  • the 1859 annual report for the Institution
  • the rules of the Institution
  • an account of the origin and history of the Institution
  • a collection of coins

Once the box was laid inside the stone, a printed copy of the procession order was placed on top of the box and then covered with a brass plate. The plate was inscribed:

This foundation stone of the new building for the Huddersfield Mechanics' Institution was laid on the 5th day of October, A.D. 1859, A.L. 5859, by the Rt. Hon. the Countess of Ripon, Past Grand Warden of England and the Provincial Grand Lodge of Freemasons of West Yorkshire. President of the Mechanics' Institute. George Dodgson Tomlinson. Messrs. Travis and Mangnall, architects. Messrs. Sutcliffe, Dearnley, and Co., builders.


By the late 1890s, the Mechanics' Institute had become the Friendly and Trade Societies' Club and, in July 1899, builders working to improve the ventilation and heating in the building cut through the foundation stone and, to their surprise, discovered the time capsule.[1]

Reportedly the brass plate was dusty but clearly readable after being wiped. The order of procession document was in relatively good preservation, although only the first section of it was still legible.

The Huddersfield Chronicle was able to supply details of the contents of the box after locating a copy of the relevant 1859 article in their archives, although their article on the rediscovery is ambiguous as to whether the club members actually opened the box or not.

It was stated that, in "all probability the casket will be placed near the spot where it was found, and the plate fixed in some conspicuous part of the building."

Notes and References

  1. "A Link With the Past" in Huddersfield Daily Chronicle (17/Jul/1899).