A Slice Of Social History Uncovered In ChCh.

Published: Thu 23 Dec 2004 12:06 AM
For immediate release Wednesday 22 December
A Slice Of Social History Uncovered In Christchurch
Christchurch company Hummingbird Coffee made a startling find at the site of its new café and roastery ­ a time capsule, which was discovered on the same day and same date it was buried 79 years ago.
A contractor was working on recycling the former Oddfellows Hall on Selwyn Street when he discovered the time capsule behind a plaque on the wall.
Inside was a copy of the Lyttelton Times dated Friday 5 December 1924, the discovery of the time capsule was made on Friday 5 December 2003.
A brass disc with Œ1924' stamped into it and a handwritten history of the Oddfellows Lodge were also inside the time capsule.
The Oddfellows Lodge was a men only organisation, which described itself as a 'friendly society.'
In 1924, the lodge had nearly 2.6 million members worldwide.
The company is now preparing a new time capsule, which it will hide on the site.
Hummingbird Coffee Managing Director George Cowper says: "We were gobsmacked when the time capsule was discovered."
"We were all really excited, you often hear of time capsules being created but rarely do you hear of them being found - let alone on the same day and date that they were hidden."
"I am a keen student of history and it felt good to be holding a slice of history that I had the chance to preserve," says George Cowper.
A photo of the Oddfellows Lodge members, a scroll detailing the group and another photo of a man (presumably a lodge member) with a poem were also found in the ceiling of the former building.
The documents were in excellent condition, despite their long internment.
Hummingbird Coffee has now framed them and they will hang in the café when it is opened.
"This is a way of preserving the spirit of the Oddfellows Lodge. We were disappointed the former hall had to be pulled down and recycled but it was unsafe. At least now we can display the Oddfellow Lodge's history so everyone can share its story," says George Cowper.
The new café is being set up in an adjacent historic hall, which was built in 1884.
Hummingbird Coffee has restored the ironwork on the ceiling and the original exterior of the building, which had been covered in cladding.
The new time capsule will contain items similar to the old time capsule ­ a copy of The Christchurch Press dated 5 December 2003, a brass disc with 2003 stamped on it, a book about Hummingbird Coffee and information about life in 2003.
George Cowper says the motto of the former Oddfellows Lodge, ŒAs we mingle, prejudice disappears' is still relevant today.
"We are going to print the motto on our staff T-Shirts. It is still a worthy rule to live by and a nice link between the Oddfellows Lodge and Hummingbird Coffee - what nicer way to mingle than over a cup of coffee?" concluded George Cowper.

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