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Home   Ashford   News   Article

Building work at Brownbills opticians in Ashford reveals mystery of message in bottle

26 March 2014
by Tim Collins

The crumbling note, lodged in a wine bottle, was discovered built into the brickwork of a chimney, which dates back to 1895.

If verified, it could be the oldest bottle message ever to have been found, with the previous record standing at 97 years, according to Guinness World Records.

The message in a bottle found in the chimney

The message in a bottle found in the chimney

 

Builders were working on the renovation of Brownbills Opticians in Ashford’s Norwood Street when they came across the unusual item.

But due to its fragile nature, staff have been unable to open up the paper to reveal its hidden message.

Optical assistant Alan Stamp, 22, said: “At the back of the chimney breast was quite a large green glass bottle with a note sticking out of it.

“We were shocked when we were told what had been found. You obviously don’t expect to find that sort of thing, and for it have survived for so long without being burned is incredible.”

Brownbills moved from Bank Street five years ago and the firm, based at Cecil House, was making alterations to its latest premises to make it more accessible to disabled people when the discovery was made.

From left Bernd Ringelmann, Huw and Helen Pinney, Denise Rhodes and Alan Stamp

From left: Bernd Ringelmann, Huw and Helen Pinney, Denise Rhodes and Alan Stamp

The delicate note was at risk of falling apart when the bottle was removed from its hiding place if handled incorrectly.

So it was placed into a sealed bag and stored in a safe location until someone can be found to protect its hidden content.

And now workers at the business are hoping to hear from experts who can help decipher the message.

“The note is so fragile that we didn’t want to open up the paper to see what it is says, but obviously we are all really eager to find out" - Alan Stamp

Mr Stamp, of Beaver Road, added: “The note is so fragile that we didn’t want to open up the paper to see what it is says, but obviously we are all really eager to find out.

“We know that the building dates back to 1895, as there’s a brick built into it with the date on it, so we suspect it might originate from that time.

“We’re hoping to hear from anyone who has the skills to open it safely so that we can see what’s written on it,” added Mr Stamp.


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