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School pod brings Edwardians to life

EARLY LAST century a group of primary pupils decided to bury several mementoes of their new school. Ninety-five years later, this has provided a history lesson for another group of pupils as they move into their new school.

Pupils at Queensbridge primary in Bolton have moved to a new site to enable their 1912 building to be converted into a sixth-form college. Builders were halfway through the demolition when the grandmother of a pupil spotted an incongruous glass jar. Pupils in 1912 had buried it, sealed with cloth and wax, between the inner and outer walls of their school.

Mel Eastwood, the Year 6 teacher, broke the seal in front of her pupils.

"Our initial reaction was, 'Ooh, it stinks'," she said. "It was very pungent, like vinegar and musty damp."

Inside the capsule, the 1912 pupils had secreted a letter, an 1880 penny and architects' plans for their new building. "The plans look very modern,"

said Ms Eastwood. "The children could look at them and say 'We were in that classroom; we used that area'."

Pupils have also been learning about how life has changed. "It was cruel at school then," said Dean Thompson, 11. "The teachers were grumpy and if you did something wrong, they would whack you with a cane."

A 1912 newspaper was included. The crime section includes an article about a boy who had fallen over and bumped his head. And a "kids' corner"

consists of a lengthy story and a joke.

But Lindsay Hollinshead, 11, believes she and her classmates are better off today. "There were lots of world wars and things then," she said. "We have computers and the internet. I prefer to live now."

As well as the past, the pupils have been considering the future. They aim to rebury the capsule together with their own version. Suggested contents include a history of the school, a register and Nintendo games console.

Dean suspects that even these high-tech inclusions will seem out-dated by the next century. "They might have a new building by then," he said.

"They'd have flying tables and electric pencils."

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