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University relics discovered in sports centre time capsule

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Sporting relics, old photographs and a bottle of whisky – all dating back 50 years – are among a treasure trove of items discovered within a time capsule at the University of Stirling.

Sealed within the University’s Gannochy Sports Pavilion during its construction in 1969, the time capsule was recovered during the current £20 million redevelopment of the sports facilities.

Olympian and Commonwealth Games star Duncan Scott joined the University’s Senior Deputy Principal, Professor Malcolm MacLeod, and Director of Sport, Cathy Gallagher, for the opening of the capsule.

Former University Facilities Manager, Campbell Chesterman, who informed contractors about the capsule’s existence, was also in attendance, alongside the University’s Director of Estates, Colin McNally; University Archivist, Karl Magee; and Stirling Student’s Union Sports President, Caitlin Ormiston.

The Gannochy Trust, set up by Arthur Bell of Bell’s Whisky, contributed £100,000 to the creation of the Sports Pavilion, which was built in June 1969 – two years after the University was founded.

During a special ceremony on Wednesday 18 June, 1969 – performed by William Farquharson, then chairman of the Trust – a foundation stone was laid and the time capsule was sealed into the fabric of the building. Professor Tom Cottrell, first Principal of the University of Stirling, and Lord Wheatley, then chairman of the University Court, were also present at the ceremony. Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Farquharson said he hoped that the Pavilion would become a landmark of Stirling – alongside the Castle and the Wallace Monument.

Opening the time capsule, Professor Malcolm MacLeod said: “It is an honour to open this time capsule which was installed in the Sports Pavilion by senior University staff almost 50 years ago. The contents are in remarkably good condition and provide an intriguing snapshot of campus life in the early years of this University, and Scotland as a whole in the late 1960s.

“In the same way that Professor Cottrell and Lord Wheatley would have then been eagerly anticipating the years that lay ahead, today I am excited by what the future holds for this University, with the redevelopment of our sports facilities – and the £21 million Campus Central project – among the biggest infrastructure investments since our foundation.”

time capsule Pictured left to right: Karl Magee (University Archivist); Debbie Preston (Estates and Campus Services); Colin McNally (Director of Estates); Campbell Chesterman (retired Facilities Manager); Professor Malcolm MacLeod (Senior Deputy Principal); Cathy Gallagher (Director of Sport); Duncan Scott (Olympic and Commonwealth Games swimmer); and Caitlin Ormiston (Stirling Students’ Union Sports President).

The steel casket was created by University employee Josef Jason, who worked in the engineering department alongside Mr Chesterman. Mr Chesterman, who went on to become Facilities Manager and retired from Stirling in 1998, contacted the University about the time capsule after seeing demolition works start late last year.

The casket – inscribed with the words: “Placed by W.G. Farquharson M.C. C.A. Chairman of The Gannochy Trust. 18th June 1969” – contained a bottle of Bell’s whisky; cricket, tennis and squash balls; a shuttlecock; and photographs of Mr Bell and University personalities, including Professor Cottrell. Plans and elevations of the building; a copy of the University’s 1970-71 prospectus; a selection of currency; a 1969 exam paper; and a copy of the Stirling Observer and Glasgow Herald were also among the items found.

University swimming sensation Duncan Scott, who returned from last year’s Commonwealth Games with six medals and has since been crowned Scottish Sportsperson of the Year, said: “It’s a great time to be an athlete at the University of Stirling – especially with the redevelopment of the sports centre, which will see an iconic new complex integrated with the existing world-class facilities.

“It’s amazing to see the items contained within the time capsule, to look back at the creation of the Gannochy Sports Pavilion and think about the opportunities it has offered Stirling athletes, students, staff and the wider community over the past 50 years.”

Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport at Stirling, revealed that the University will add to the time capsule before sealing it within the new building, which is due for completion in summer 2020.

She said: “We are extremely grateful to former Facilities Manager, Campbell Chesterman, for informing the University about the presence of the time capsule.

“Its contents provide a fascinating insight into the early years of the University and the creation of the Gannochy Sports Pavilion, which has – over the last 50 years – produced world-class sportspeople, from swimmers and triathletes, to golfers and tennis players.

“The £20 million redevelopment of the sports facilities is another significant milestone for the University, which demonstrates our ongoing commitment to delivering an exceptional student experience at Stirling, and will ensure we will continue to produce top athletes in the years to come.

“We will work with colleagues from across the University, including our Archivist, to preserve the existing items in the time capsule – and add to the collection – before sealing it within the structure of the new building.”

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