Message in a bottle ‘returns’ to Jersey beach 82 years later

Chiara Giordano
A message in a bottle dating back to September 1938 was found washed up on a beach on the Channel Island of Jersey by Nigel Hill on 18 February 2020: Jersey Evening Post/SWNS

A message in a bottle asking the finder to send a photograph has washed ashore after more than 80 years at sea.

Nigel Hill was walking his dog Reggie on a beach in the Bel Royal area of Jersey when he stumbled upon the bottle and was surprised to find a message written on cardboard inside.

The note, dated 5 September 1938, asks the finder to “communicate” with a man named John Stapleford in Hertfordshire – and to send a photograph.

It was handwritten on the back of an old cake box from Cawley Bros Ltd and placed in a Smith’s bottle.

The companies were both once based in Jersey, which has led people to believe the message originates from the island.

Mr Hill, 55, said: “I was just walking along and saw it and thought it looked interesting. Then I saw the note inside.

“Unfortunately, I had to break it to get the note out.”

The message read: “Will the finder of this bottle please communicate with: John Stapleford, 18 Fitzjohn Avenue, Barnet, Herts, England. With a photograph.”

Mr Hill shared his find on Facebook and was soon able to track down the current resident living at the address.

He said: “I thought at first this might be a hoax but it’s definitely not.

“As is the way with Jersey, I had lots of people contact me to help and I have been able to track down the lady who currently lives in the property.

“She says she does not recall a John Stapleford and she has lived there for 30 years.

“But she has looked into the deeds of her home and found that a John Stapleford did buy the place in 1921.

“It would be really nice if I could give the bottle and the note back to members of his family. It could be an heirloom for them.”

Birth and death records show Mr Stapleton was born on 4 August 1889 and had worked as a civil servant as well as chief accountant with HM Customs and Excise.

It is believed he had a wife called Nellie and that he died on 2 December 1980, aged 91.

His address then was St George House, 11 London Road, Norfolk.

Additional reporting by SWNS

Read more

Boy finds message in bottle on beach from men ‘out of nuts on cocaine’

Message in a bottle sent by Russian sailor during Cold War discovered

Message in bottle written 50 years ago discovered by fisherman

World’s oldest message in a bottle found on Australian beach

Mystery message in a bottle returned home after 50 years