A Victorian time capsule dating back to 1842 was found by contractors working on a major £1.8million revamp of Sidcup town centre.
Mark Jackson, who works for Conway, was working with a colleague when he spotted something unusual as they excavated the ground outside the new Sidcup & Co store on Tuesday morning, close to the junction with Hadlow Road.
Mark and his colleague tried to get the object out the ground by hand but without success.
When they used their mechanical digger, they broke a bottle which they found contained a treasure trove of documents that are 172-years-old.
The documents show that the time capsule was put in place by J Morris Esq of William Smith Architects and Mr Robert Wade and Mr James Miller, Builders on 10 May 1842.
The contents were wrapped in a blank Metropolitan Police Form No2 from the 1840s.
The main item of interest is a unique and light hearted original text about the project composed in rhyming couplets and written in immaculate script.
It refers to “the fame’d Sir Robert Peel”, who founded the Metropolitan Police and was Prime Minister when the bottle was put in place for future generations to discover.
The beautifully handwritten text is addressed to the police officers who were to occupy the building and with an eye to the future.
It concludes with the following – “We’ll not proclaim such state’s arrive’d– but only hope it will, When all mankind in friendships bonds, are free’d from every ill!
Oh swift wing’d time such blessing bring, which blessing leave us never; Then truth with justice fair prevail, and happy be for ever.”
The final document in the fascinating collection is a chart showing the night sky on the day that the foundation stone of the station house was laid, supported by a detailed account of its meaning for the people of the time and the building under construction.
Bexley’s Local Studies and Archives Manager Simon McKeon said he was delighted with the discovery, which pre-dates the first maps of the town in the borough’s collection.