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Time capsule to be locked for three centuries

A map of the moon, a miniature music box and a collection of coins are among the artefacts contained in a time capsule that is to be locked away for 300 years.

James D Robinson Time Capsule

Liz Bregazzi, county archivist, with the John D Robinson Time Capsule

The James D Robinson Time Capsule, which has been put together by a County Durham photographer, is to be stored at Durham County Record Office.

There are only four other known capsules in the world that will remain unopened for longer than the new box - and none are to be found in the UK.

Westinghouse time capsules

James D Robinson, from Newton Aycliffe, was inspired to create the aluminium box-within-a-box after reading about the Westinghouse time capsules buried at Flushing Meadows in New York. First interred in 1938, the capsules are not due to be opened until 6939.

James, whose photos are included in the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery and The Royal Society, said: "The capsule is intended to be opened on 21 March 2317, a day I have chosen because of its symbolic association with the first day of spring and the rebirth of the natural world, which equates to the new lease of life for the data within the time capsule once it is opened."

Film screening

Noel Bennett, also of Newton Aycliffe, has put together a film about the project, its contents, how it was sealed and how it will be stored.

There will be a special screening of the film at St Clare's Church Hall, St Cuthbert's Way, Newton Aycliffe, on Friday, 21 April at 7.00pm, when there will also be a question and answer session and Liz Bregazzi, County Archivist at Durham County Record Office, will talk about how the time capsule will be preserved.

Liz said: "James' request to store the capsule was quite an unusual one and not something we have been asked to do before.

"It's the only time capsule we have in our stores but we are always interested in different ideas and suggestions for capturing and preserving the past."

Capsule's contents

The capsule contains a large database of text and images and a number of artefacts, with individual items including:

  • A copy of Patrick Moore's moon map as originally published in the Sky at Night magazine;
  • An early copy of an American superhero comic featuring The Flash;
  • An essay on current understanding of how the universe may have originated by Professor Carlos S Frenk, the director of the Durham-based Institute for Computational Cosmology;
  • Copies of drawings, photographs and poster designs by James D Robinson;
  • More than 100 coins from around the world;
  • A collection of crown cap bottles tops and pin badges, some of which relate to early Russian space missions;
  • A small collection of vintage lighters and mechanical wrist watches;
  • A miniature music box that plays the song Edelweiss;
  • A vintage razor from 1912 and a double o gauge die cast model of a motor car.

James has also produced a small booklet, which has been distributed to archives around the world in an effort to ensure that the time capsule remains within the scope of human memory.

The booklet is also available online at James Robinson Time Capsule and can be viewed at Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham.

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