A map of the moon, a music box and an American superhero comic are among the items that have been placed in a time capsule at the Durham County Record Office. The time capsule is not due to be opened until 2317.

The capsule – which will be stored at the record office – has been put together by the County Durham photographer James D Robinson.

James, from Newton Aycliffe, has photographs in the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Society.

He got the idea for the time capsule after reading about the Westinghouse time capsules that are buried at Flushing Meadows in New York. Interred in 1938, these capsules will not be opened until 6939.

County Durham Time Capsule to Be Locked Away for 300 Years
James D. Robinson

James said, “The capsule is intended to be opened on 21st 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.”

Noel Bennett, also from Newton Aycliffe, has made a film about the project, focusing on the time capsule’s contents, as well as on how the capsule was sealed and how it will be stored.

There will be a showing of the film at St Clare’s Church Hall, St Cuthbert’s Way, Newton Aycliffe, on Friday 21st April at 7.00 pm. The film will be followed by a question and answer session, and Liz Bregazzi, the county archivist at Durham County Record Office, will give a talk about how the time capsule will be preserved.

County Durham Time Capsule to Be Locked Away for 300 Years
Liz Bregazzi with the time capsule

Liz said, “James’s request to store the capsule was quite an unusual one and not something we have been asked to do before.”

“It is 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.”

The capsule contains a large database of text and a number of artefacts, which include:

  • A copy of Patrick Moore’s moon map, which was originally published in Sky at Night Magazine
  • A copy of an American comic featuring the superhero The Flash
  • An essay on the current understanding of how the universe may have originated by Professor Carlos S Frenck, the director of the Durham-based Institute for Computational Cosmology
  • Copies of James D Robinson’s drawings, photographs and poster designs
  • More than 100 coins from all over the world
  • A collection of bottle tops and pin badges, some of which celebrate early Russian space missions
  • A collection of vintage lighters and wrist watches
  • A music box that plays the song Edelweiss
  • A vintage razor from 1912

James D Robinson has also produced a booklet, which has been distributed to archives around the world in an effort to make sure the time capsule is not forgotten in the coming centuries.

This booklet can be viewed at Durham County Record Office as well as online at jamesdrobinsonarena.com.


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