The contents of the time capsule. Photograph: Rydon

Builders have discovered a time capsule dating from 1902 on the site of the former Queen Elizabeth Children’s Hospital.

The glass container was found hidden behind a foundation stone by construction workers currently redeveloping the former hospital into flats.

The contents revealed that the time capsule had been placed during a ceremony celebrating the opening of the building on 8 May 1902.

The capsule contained a catalogue of donors, a hymn sheet and a ribbon from the ceremony during the grand opening of the building, which was performed by Queen Victoria’s fifth daughter Beatrice; more formally known as Her Royal Highness Princess Henry of Battenberg.

Several newspapers from the day including a copy of The Daily Telegraph, were also uncovered in remarkable condition.

The time capsule is now being looked after by Hackney City Farm.


A 1902 copy of the Daily Telegraph. Photograph: Rydon

Tom Rigby, Development Director for Rydon, said the discovery was “completely unexpected”.

He said: “This discovery by our demolition contractor was completely unexpected and very timely as this historic site begins its new lease of life.

“It’s always fascinating to find out more about the old hospital and this capsule provides a snapshot of life over a century ago.

“The items are currently in the safekeeping of the Hackney City Farm, which is involved in a local history project to celebrate their 30th anniversary next year.”

Family Mosaic Development Director Dick Mortimer said: “The unexpected capsule discovery demonstrates how the site was once an important civic resource.

“For over 16 years the site has been unused and in disrepair. I’m pleased that together with Rydon, we are able to bring the site back into use through the building of much needed affordable homes, while being sensitive to the site’s history.”

The redevelopment of the former hospital on Hackney Road is being carried out by Rydon and Family Mosaic to create 188 new homes, 38% of which will be ‘affordable’, for rent or for purchase through shared ownership.

The remainder are available for private sale through Mettle & Poise.


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