IT was an occasion that was seven years in the making. An event which families travelled to from far and wide. An afternoon where the sense of anticipation could not have been greater.

In fact, the only thing missing from a special ceremony to excavate a time capsule was the time capsule itself!

The comic complication occurred at Claypool Primary School in Horwich when excited Year 6 pupils gathered to unearth the capsule they had buried when they were in Reception.

Headteacher Mrs Amanda Hulme said: “Fortunately, there was a lot of laughter and everyone took it in good spirits.”

The buried biscuit tin, which contained 30 items from the children, and a letter from the then Reception teacher, Aidan Brierley, was buried in 2011.

The contents – which also included a plastic Thomas the Tank Engine and a glass paperweight – were secured in a plastic bag before the lid was placed on the tin. It was then buried in the dead centre of a circle of trees in the grounds of the Salisbury Road school.

Friday’s grand unearthing ceremony saw the pupils and their relatives in attendance. One of the original pupils, who now lives in Garstang, attended with his whole family, and another pupil’s grandad travelled from Yorkshire.

Mr Brierley also returned to his former school and was as excited as the children when the digging began. But, despite the sterling efforts of the school’s site manager, Jason Stokes, the capsule could not be found. The school even resorted to using an aerial photograph for reference, but to no avail.

“What was particularly lovely was how positively people reacted. A lot of the parents went home and returned with spades to help in the dig. Some of them stayed after school and others continued the digging on Saturday,” said Mrs Hulme. “There was a real sense of community. We are a very resilient school and so we won’t be giving up.”

The school is also very resourceful and the hole, which is now the size of a small pool, was used as the inspiration for a whole school writing project. This included the Year 6 class writing to Bolton Metal Detecting Club to seek help.

And the good news is that the club has responded and kindly offered to help locate the missing capsule.