FEATURE: Time Capsule captures a moment in town’s history

Time capsule buried at Goldthorpe Church by local school children from Goldthorpe Primary and Father Schaefer
Time capsule buried at Goldthorpe Church by local school children from Goldthorpe Primary and Father Schaefer
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Newspapers, coins, an old mobile phone - as the items on the table start to disappear into the capsule, it’s strange to think the next time anyone claps eyes on them will be in 100 years.

“Let’s hope they’re not still using these in 2116,” says Father Schaefer as he places a worn-looking hymn book inside, followed by a copy of Goldthorpe Parish Church’s most recent council minutes.

Time capsule buried at Goldthorpe Church by local school children from Goldthorpe Primary and Father Schaefer

Time capsule buried at Goldthorpe Church by local school children from Goldthorpe Primary and Father Schaefer

Next to him, pupils from Goldthorpe Primary School add a commemorative mug, keyrings, a supermarket receipt and pieces of paper each of them have filled with details about themselves and their community.

As the time capsule starts to fill, a crowd has gathered to watch it go in the ground in front of the church, on Lockwood Road.

Today is exactly 100 years to the day since Goldthorpe Parish Church opened its doors, in the May of 1916. The time capsule is just one of a number of celebrations that has been organised to mark its centenary.

When everything has been added, pupils Chad and Brandon help Fr Schaefer to put the lid on, sealing its content in for the next century.

Time capsule buried at Goldthorpe Church by local school children from Goldthorpe Primary

Time capsule buried at Goldthorpe Church by local school children from Goldthorpe Primary

“And who knows what that century will bring,” says Fr Schaefer, who has been with the parish for eight years.

“That’s what’s fascinating isn’t it? 100 years ago, when this church opened, we were in the middle of the First World War. Look at everything that’s happened and everything that has changed in that time, it’s incredible to think what things will be like the next time these items see the light of day.

“What’s really mind-blowing,” he adds, indicating the pupils around him.

“Is that some of these kids here today might just be here to see it come out of the ground.”

Time capsule buried at Goldthorpe Church by local school children from Goldthorpe Primary
Maison, Brandon, Courtenay and Reo with some of the items that will go in the capsule

Time capsule buried at Goldthorpe Church by local school children from Goldthorpe Primary Maison, Brandon, Courtenay and Reo with some of the items that will go in the capsule

“Not me,” says 11-year-old Chad, shaking his head,

“I’ll have moved to Spain by then!”

Brandon, aged 10, added a commemorative centenary tablecloth to the capsule, along with a paper about himself and his dreams of becoming a professional footballer. Next to him, Jayden, 11, also wrote about his love of football and added some coins to the capsule.

“Coins will look really different in 100 years,” Jayden informs me confidently.

“I think phones will too.”

Chad disagrees: “Nah I think mobile phones will be the same, maybe just a bit better. Apple will still be making them too!”

With the capsule in the ground, the children start kicking dirt into the hole, which will be covered on Sunday with a commemorative stone, unveiled by the church’s patron, the Earl of Halifax.

“Sunday is going to be a great service - the good and great of Goldthorpe will be here,” says Fr Schaefer.

“Goldthorpe gets a lot of bad press but the truth is that an awful lot of good things go on here and this centenary gives us the opportunity to celebrate this place and the people in it.

“We don’t have anyone around anymore who actually remembers the church being built, but we do have plenty of people in our community - people in their eighties and nineties - who remember it when it was new. It’s incredible to think what these people have lived through and everything they’ve seen; a community at its peak when the pits were open and everything was thriving. Things are so different now - some for the better, some for the worse - and that’s why we chose to do a time capsule, to capture our moment in time for the generations that come next. It’s also a great way to engage with the school and the wider community and invite them to be a part of something with us.”

The church, which has a thriving congregation and sees hundreds of people come through its doors every week, has also been through a lot and, according to Fr Schaefer, is one of the earliest and only buildings of its kind built entirely of cast in situ concrete.

“It was a brand new technology in the middle of the First World War,” he explains.

“Nobody knew how it would hold up and the church building saw a lot of deterioration over the years, so 15 years ago we got a Heritage Lottery Grant and the outside was practially rebuilt, with lots of bits re-cast and put right.

“Inside it looks almost exactly like it did when it opened its doors all those years ago; it’s a beautiful building.”

And after the service on Sunday, the congregation will take to the lawn of the vicarage to mop up the centenary celebrations in style - with a giant hog roast.

“Weather permitting!” warns Fr Schaefer with a smile.