Navy catches up with the news - from 95 years ago

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 January, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 January, 1997, 12:00am

The Royal Navy dug up old dirt yesterday when a time capsule buried in 1902 was unearthed.

No one was sure what had been put in the lead box or what state it would be in as Janet Melson, wife of the Senior Naval Officer in Hong Kong, Commodore Peter Melson, picked up the same solid silver trowel used to bury the capsule exactly 95 years ago.

Workers raised the foundation stone at the Prince of Wales Barracks and then cut through the sealed box which contained memorabilia from the turn of the century and also from 1962 when the box had to be moved.

Mrs Melson pulled out coins, newspapers, dockyard plans and an HMS Tamar sailor's cap tally which will be donated to the new military museum at Lei Yue Mun. Some of the items may need special treatment after decaying during their time underground.

It is the second time the capsule has been unearthed. It was first buried by a 'Mrs Powell' on January 15, 1902, under a foundation stone laid for a new naval dockyard on reclaimed land at about the site of the current Murray Road car park.

The capsule was found in 1959 when the dock was demolished. It was reburied in October 1962 with extra items including a one-cent note, a plan of the new dockyard, a South China Morning Post photograph and a copy of the newspaper, which included reports on an immigration racket and bitter fighting between Chinese communists and Indian troops.