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135-year-old message in a bottle discovered beneath the floorboards

135-year-old message in a bottle discovered beneath the floorboards

When a plumber cut a hole in the floorboards of an Edinburgh home, he discovered a bottle containing a 135-year-old message.

When Peter Allan, 50, opened the floor in the exact spot where the whisky bottle had been left, he discovered the Victorian time capsule.

He dashed downstairs to inform the owner of the Morningside house. Eilidh Stimpson had to smash open the bottle to read the note, but her two children were overjoyed.

Mr. Allan told BBC Scotland that he couldn’t believe his good fortune in cutting into the floor directly above the bottle.

“The room is 10 feet by 15 feet, and I cut exactly around the bottle without even realising it was there.” “I can’t believe it,” he exclaimed.

“I was moving a radiator and cut a random hole to look for pipework, and there it was, I’m not sure what happened.”

“I took it downstairs and told her, ‘Look what I found under your floor.'”

WF Wightman Plumbing owner Mr Allan said it was discovered under what would have been a maid’s room when the house was first built.

Eilidh Stimpson, an Edinburgh GP and mother of two, now lives there with her husband.

135-year-old message in a bottle found under floorboards

Photo Credit: Eilidh Stimpson – The note is signed and dated by two male workers who laid the floor

She decided to wait until her two sons, ages eight and ten, returned home from school before attempting to retrieve the note from the bottle.

“When I picked them up, I told them I had something really exciting to tell them, and they said, ‘Is it that we’re having hot dogs for tea?'” she told BBC Scotland.

“They made a few more guesses, and then I told them a message in a bottle had been discovered in our house, and they were ecstatic, thinking it was possibly treasure.”

When they got home, they desperately tried to extract the note with tweezers and pliers, but it began to rip slightly.

So she took a hammer to the bottle and smashed it.

“We were all crowding around it, pointing torches at it, trying to read it, it was so exciting,” she said.

Two male workers signed and dated the note, which read: “James Ritchie and John Grieve laid this floor, but they did not drink the whisky.” The 6th of October, 1887.

“Whoever finds this bottle may believe that our dust is blowing down the road.”

Preserve the note

“I feel absolutely terrible breaking a 135-year-old bottle, but it was the only way to reach the note,” she explained. “I kept everything in a Tupperware tub.”

Since the discovery, a family friend checked the 1881 census and discovered the men’s names living just a few miles away in Edinburgh’s Newington neighbourhood.

Since then, a curator at the National Library of Scotland has advised the family to keep the note in an acid-free pocket.

“I’ve ordered some pockets, and I think we’ll eventually frame the note with a piece of the bottle, like the neck, because it’s such an exciting and lovely thing to have,” Eilidh said.

She stated that they would place a bottle containing a new note from the family as well as a transcription of the note back into the hole before it was covered over.

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“It’s incredible to think it lay there all that time and could have been there forever.” It’s not from the 1970s or anything, it’s much older, and it’s very cool.”

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