And finally… Contractors reunite daughters with father’s 35-year-old message in a bottle

(from left) Clarke Elsby, Karen Clark, Linda Kirkpatrick and Arthur Blower
(from left) Clarke Elsby, Karen Clark, Linda Kirkpatrick and Arthur Blower

When surveyors from the Dumfries office of building preservation company Richardson and Starling began stripping plasterboard off a wall they discovered a bottle containing a message concealed in a fireplace 35 years prior.

The letter, secreted within a 1971 bottle of Sauternes wine, dates back to 4th February 1982 and was written by James Kirkpatrick, the previous owner of the property on Lovers Lane in Dumfries.

In the two page note he gives an insight into the unsettled political and economic times facing the UK writing: “Over 3 million unemployed now and the depression is not getting any better” and “rail drivers have been striking now for two days a week for the last 4 weeks”.

Mr Kirkpatrick also comments on rampant inflation in Poland where “prices of food have gone up 300 to 400%” whilst in Scotland it’s “64p for a pint of lager”, “97p for a packet of 20 cigarettes”. He had just bought a new Ford Cortina for £3,950.

The surveyor who made the discovery, Clarke Eslby, used Facebook to contact Mr Kirkpatrick’s two daughters, Karen and Linda, after establishing he passed away in 2004.

The ladies, who were 21 and 18 respectively at the time the letter was written, were stunned when they learned of the discovery.

“Richardson and Starling made great efforts to contact us through social media and, at first, we thought it was a wind up. But when we read the letter it was so emotional for us both,” said Linda.

“It just goes to show how times have changed since our dad wrote this - some of the prices of products he references are quite something,” she added.

Commenting on the find, Richardson & Starling’s local area manager for Dumfries, Arthur Blower, said: “We often come across unusal things in our work but it’s usually unexpected building defects which we need to fix. To uncover a message in a bottle is certainly a first for us and we were delighted to reunite it with Mr Kirkpatrick’s daughters.”

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