Pupils bury time capsule during Old Library renovation works

KNOWSLEY Junior School pupils have created their own bit of history at one of Oldham town centre’s historic buildings.

Youngsters from the Springhead school buried a time capsule in the Old Library on Union Street, which is being refurbished as part of a major project to bring it back into public use.

The Year 5 children have been taking part in a history project with staff from Gallery Oldham, including seeing a time capsule discovered in 1974 following a fire at the old Tommyfield Market Hall.

The young people were able to examine two newspapers and a letter containing the names of the people who had buried it in 1904.

For their own time capsule, which was donated by Tilbury Douglas who are renovating the building on behalf of Oldham Council, the schoolchildren included

Knowsley Junior School time capsule Old Library

self-portraits, a poem about Oldham they had written, a list of their names, a Covid-19 test kit, a till receipt from Tesco, a school badge and a copy of the Saddleworth Independent.

The capsule is now hidden as part of the regeneration work on the Grade II listed building.

Stephen Potts, History Coordinator and Year 5 teacher, said: “Children were lucky enough to be invited to Gallery Oldham to take part in some exciting heritage work.

“They were able to learn about the history of the Old Library as well as other historic buildings in Oldham.

“Maps were also used to explore the changing landscape of the borough and time capsules were discussed to understand their significance for future generations.

Pupils enjoyed looking round the old library

“To end the day, children created portraits and, with other items, placed them inside a time capsule to be buried on site.

“Understanding your local heritage plays a significant role in understanding not only your local history but also how it all pieces together and contributes to the town’s wider history.

“Local history can also be key to understanding national and international history and as such is embedded in our curriculum.

“The visit proved to be a fun and engaging day and was a perfect opportunity to learn more about the history of Oldham.”

Originally built in 1883 to provide a free public library for the residents of Oldham, the building was later extended to provide a lecture theatre and gallery space to meet the requirements of the growing town.

Latterly it was superseded by Gallery Oldham and in 2017 all public access finally came to an end.

The Old Library is a key site in Oldham’s cultural quarter and sits beside Oldham Library and Gallery Oldham. The cultural quarter will also be boosted by a new theatre when the Old Post Office and former Quaker Meeting House are redeveloped, providing a new home for Oldham Coliseum.

The first phase of the works initially focuses on the Old Library’s exterior to prevent further deterioration and structural works to futureproof the building.

There will be a new roof that will also reinstate the original 19th century design for the southern gallery, the external stonework will be cleaned using specialist treatments and, internally, moulds of the existing plaster will be taken for future replication.

Councillor Amanda Chadderton, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “We are really pleased work on the Old Library is well underway and it’s good that pupils have been able to come and along and get involved in what we are doing.

“Burying a time capsule is a great way for the children to remember their visit and is something they can possibly tell their children about in years to come.

“The Old Library is special to many Oldhamers as they visited it when they were younger. We hope they will be pleased we are looking to bring it back into use.


“Our aim is to have a building that compliments the cultural quarter and celebrates Oldham’s history and heritage.”

Phil Shaw, Divisional Director, Tilbury Douglas, said: “It’s been a pleasure to welcome the students to site for them to witness the transformation of the Old Library.

“The project is significant for Oldham and because of the building’s heritage, it’s entirely fitting that we bury a time capsule to celebrate.”

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