135 Year Old Message: A plumber couldn’t believe his eyes when he drilled a hole in the floorboards of an Edinburgh house and found a bottle containing a 135-year-old message.
Peter Allen, 50, discovered a Victorian time capsule when he dug open the floor exactly where a bottle of whiskey had been left.
He ran downstairs to tell the owner of the house in the Morningside area.
Ailidh Stimpson had to break open the bottle to read the note – and said her two children are thrilled with the discovery.
Mr Allen told BBC Scotland he could not believe his luck in having cut the floor just above the bottle.
He said, “The room is 10 feet by 15 feet and I cut right around the bottle without knowing it was there. I can’t believe it.”
“I was running a radiator and cut a random hole to find the pipework and there it was, I don’t know what happened.
“I took it to the lady downstairs and said ‘look what I found under your floor’.”
Mr. Allen, the owner of WF Wightman Plumbing, said that when the house was first built, it was occupied by what would have been a maid’s room.
Now the mother-in-law of the two, Edinburgh GP Eilidh Stimpson, lives there with her husband.
She decided to wait until her children, aged eight and 10, were home from school before trying to get the note out of the bottle.
She told BBC Scotland: “When I picked them up I told them I had something really exciting to tell them and they said ‘Is it like we’re having hot dogs for tea?’
“They had a few more guesses and then I told them a message in a bottle had been found in our house and they were really excited and thought it was probably treasure.”
When he reached home, he tried hard to get the note out with tweezers and pliers, but it tore a little.
So he broke the bottle with a hammer.
She said: “We were all crowding around and pointing torches at it and trying to read it, it was so exciting.”
The note was signed and dated by two male workers and read: “James Ritchie and John Grieve lay this floor, but they don’t drink whiskey. 6 October 1887.”
“Who ever finds this bottle may think that our dust is flying in the street.”
keep notes safe
She said: “I feel terrible breaking a 135-year-old bottle but it was the only way to get to the note. I put all the pieces in a Tupperware tub.”
Since Monday’s discovery a family friend looked at the 1881 census and found the names of men living just a few miles apart in the Newington area of Edinburgh.
A curator at the National Library of Scotland has since recommended the family keep the note in an acid-free pocket.
Eilidh said: “I’ve ordered some pockets and think eventually we’ll frame the note with a piece of the bottle such as the neck because it’s such an exciting and lovely thing.”
She said they would put a bottle, accompanied by a new note from the family with a transcription of the note, back into the hole before covering it up.
“To think that it was lying there all that time and could have been there forever is just amazing. It’s not just 70 or something like that, it’s so old, it’s so cool.”
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