Builders discover letter written in 1938 hidden in the wall of Heart of the City construction site in Sheffield

Builders have found a letter written by a plasterer renovating a Sheffield chapel in 1938 embedded in the walls of the building.

Henry Boot staff with the cavity where the letter was found
Henry Boot staff with the cavity where the letter was found

Henry Boot Construction employees are currently working on the Heart of the City site in the city centre. The project involves converting the historic Bethel Chapel on Cambridge Street into an entertainment venue.

And they were stunned when they came acros the note rolled up inside a small canister and lodged within a wall cavity.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The letter was signed by the foreman of plastering firm Bradbury & Sons as he worked on the chapel in 1938, two years after it had closed as a place of worship.

The letter included a list of plasterers who converted the chapel into a clothing business premises

According to Sheffield Archives, 1938 was when entrepreneur George Binns bought the former chapel as the new premises for his clothing business, Outfitters, which he relocated from Moorhead. He commissioned renovations including a two-storey extension and the removal of the small churchyard.

The letter lists the names of the men involved in the work – who were all members of the Plasterers Union - including apprentice 'Big Teddy', who could have been as young as 14 under the employment laws of the time.

Henry Boot staff have now returned the note to the cavity and added their own list of those working on the site today to create a time capsule. Senior site supervisor Carl Gelder and apprentice Harry Rodgers were among those who signed it.

Operations manager Ian Gresser said: “At Henry Boot Construction we are extremely proud to be working on flagship projects in our home city and we always take our responsibility to protect any findings very seriously. To uncover an old letter or artifact is always an exciting moment, but it’s particularly special to find something directly linked to the construction industry.

“Much of the Heart of the City project is about protecting key heritage, particularly along Cambridge Street. So, adding our own letter to the capsule and contributing to the story of the area means a lot to the team. It’s nice to think that people may read our letter alongside the Bradbury & Sons letter in another 100 years.”

Henry Boot Construction are working on three key city centre developments within the Heart of the City scheme - Kangaroo Works, Cambridge Street Collective and Elshaw House.

Kangaroo Works is a residential development of 365 apartments; Cambridge Street Collective is a cultural and social destination that features a 20,000 sq ft food hall, fine dining restaurant and the Bethel Chapel venue; and Elshaw House is a net-zero office complex.