12 April 1991. As part of the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the University of Bradford, a time capsule was sealed into the foyer of Richmond Building. University staff had been asked to suggest “sensible but imaginative objects” (the winners received bottles of sparkling wine) which were put into the capsule before it was locked by Vice Chancellor David Johns and Chair of Council Roger Suddards.
12 April 2016. As part of the celebrations of the University’s 50th anniversary, the time capsule was opened at a special event for staff and students. Watch the event, including a “show and tell” by Alison Cullingford the Special Collections Librarian (me!), on this Youtube video:
We were delighted that Professor Peter Excell was able to attend: his talk covered his choice of object (the super-conductor) and his memories of 1991. A large and lively crowd clearly enjoyed finding out more about the objects and the story of the University: thanks to all involved in organising or participating: it was fun!
You can see photographs of the objects on the Time Capsule’s webpage. The media then (and now) were most interested in those representing University Chancellors. Our Chancellor at the time, industrialist and TV personality Sir John Harvey-Jones, contributed this huge tie: he often wore such a tie when he visited the University. Sir Harold Wilson, the first Chancellor (1966-1986), was by then too frail to attend, but sent one of his iconic pipes. It still has the faintest trace of tobacco.
Other favourites included:
- Menu from the University refectory, featuring a sponge pudding for 30p;
- Calculator – which still worked when we switched it on. Impressive!
- Score of Jubilate, a piece written by the then Fellow in Music Graham Coatman and performed as part of the celebrations;
- Disposable surgical retractor, developed by David Sharpe of the Burns Research Unit. This innovative design was awarded the Prince of Wales award for best invention in 1988;
- and lots lots more (the capsule was as full as it could be. Clearly staff then, as now, were inspired by the capsule idea).
The objects are now part of the University Archive in Special Collections; everyone is welcome to arrange a visit to see them. Colleagues at the University, please contact me (Alison) if you would like a mini-opening in your own department.