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Time capsule for Victoria Bridge continues 133-year tradition

Provost Jim Todd and Councillor Douglas Reid, Leader of the Council joined Archie, Abbie, Molly, Liam, Lyle and Charlie   from P6 at Loanhead Primary and invited guests for a time capsule ceremony at Victoria Bridge in Kilmarnock.

During the improvement works, the Ayrshire Roads Alliance discovered a time capsule from 1972, which contained information about the time capsule discovered during those works from 1889.

Victoria Bridge, and Queen’s Drive, had been commissioned by Kilmarnock Town Council to celebrate the Jubilee of the reign of Queen Victoria in 1887. The bridge was officially opened on the 14 September 1889 and as part of the opening ceremony, a time capsule, which was a glass jar, was buried by the Provincial Grand Secretary and Treasurer of the Masonic Lodge in Ayrshire.

The contents of the time capsule are stored at the Dick Institute and include a complete set of coins from 1889, a collection of nine stamps, documents from 1888 and 1889 of decision taken about Kilmarnock, the Kay Park Trust abstract of accounts and a programme from the public dinner held at the Art Hall after the opening ceremony.

In 1971 the original bridge was demolished and rebuilt, re-opening in 1972. The time capsule from 1972 was discovered in May within a stone pilaster demolished as part of the 2022 extensive refurbishment works to the bridge. The Alliance’s Design team handed the time capsule, which has been slightly water damaged to the Dick Institute. It contained a copy of the Kilmarnock Standard from Friday 7 January 1972, the front page featured articles including ‘Prosperity ahead for Irvine New Town’, ‘Police are not dog catchers’ in response to Galston Town Council’s concerns about stray and roaming dogs and AT Mays had an advert for Butlin Pontins. There was also a double page spread on the 1889 time capsule with a photograph of a young woman cataloguing the items at the Dick Institute. The time capsule also contained bridge drawings, council meetings minutes relating to the bridge and what appears to be Polaroid photos, but the images have not survived.

A decision was taken to continue the 133-year tradition and prepare a 2022 time capsule. P6 from Loanhead Primary got on board quickly. They were learning about HRH The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in class and about the history of their school, which opened in 1905. They were fascinated to learn more about Victoria Bridge and Queen’s Drive, it was a great mix of Victorian and modern history with a current bridge improvement project. They wrote about their life in 2022 for the time capsule, writing about their families and friends, their pets and the technology that they use today.

The Ayrshire Roads Alliance included plans for the refurbishment project and information about the project team. Minutes from the meeting of Full Council from Thursday 19 May 2022 were also included.

Provost Todd was joined by Loanhead Primary Head Teacher Amanda Milne, former Kilmarnock Standard legend Alex Milligan, who worked for the paper in 1972; Bruce Morgan from the Dick Institute, who is responsible for both previous time capsules; Kevin Braidwood, Head of Roads: Ayrshire Roads Alliance; a representative from the main contractor for the Victoria Bridge refurbishment works, Diack and Macaulay Ltd and local historians Graham Boyd and Frank Beattie.

Provost Todd said: “I was delighted to attend Victoria Bridge time capsule ceremony and talk to everyone about their memories of Kilmarnock and of course to our young people, who think 1972 is a very, very long time ago. Dougie and Graham both attended Loanhead Primary in 1972 and spoke to the young people about their Head Teacher, Mr McPhee and about their favourite teachers. Alex and Frank were both journalists at the Kilmarnock Standard at the time and they had great knowledge and insight to share with everyone. Bruce Morgan from the Dick Institute explained more about the time capsules and the importance of preserving our town’s memories.

“Victoria Bridge is looking great after the extensive refurbishment programme, thanks to the Ayrshire Roads Alliance and their main contractor Diack and Macaulay Ltd; it is one of the main arteries of Kilmarnock and is now protected for another 50 years.”

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