Global search for biscuit tin accidentally binned after Edinburgh mum’s death

A grieving son has sparked an international search for a biscuit tin depicting the Forth Bridges which was accidentally thrown out in the wake of his mum’s death.

Monday, 25th March 2019, 1:21 pm
Updated Monday, 25th March 2019, 1:28 pm
Magnus Spence with his parents. Picture: SWNS
Magnus Spence with his parents. Picture: SWNS

Magnus Spence, 52, has been on a three-month quest to find the vintage McVities tin, which depicts an artist’s impression of the Forth Road Bridge in anticipation of it opening.

The commemorative tin was a staple throughout his childhood as his mum, Sheila, who died in December aged 85, used it to store Jaffa Cakes.

Sheila lived in Leith area and worked at the Capital’s Dick Vet veterinary college, where she fell in love with an Orcadian, Albert Spence, who was a student there at the time.

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A similar biscuit tin (side view) to that once owned by Shelia Spence. Picture: SWNS

The couple moved to Aberdeenshire and then to Orkney, and had Magnus, who works as a farmer.

Although he grew up on Orkney, Magnus said the biscuit tin reminded him of the arduous journey to Edinburgh to see his gran, which the family would make once a year.

However in the wake of his mother’s death, Magnus’ partner got rid of it without realising its sentimental value.

Magnus said: “Mum always had it in the house, it was the tin she kept the Jaffa Cakes in for when kids came round.

Magnus is searching for his mothers old McVities biscuit tin depicting the Forth Bridges that was accidentally thrown out. Picture: SWNS

“Her father’s parents moved to Edinburgh from Orkney at the turn of the 20th Century where there was a big Orkney population in the Leith area.

“My mother married an Orkney fella in 1961 and they went back - she had Orkney blood in her and realised…”

But even living on an island in the far north of Scotland, the biscuit tin helped to remind Sheila of her roots in the Capital.

The distinctive tin is illustrated with a technicolour picture of the Forth Road Bridge, which was scheduled to open in 1963 but was finally finished the following year, and UNESCO World Heritage site the Forth Bridge, which was finished in 1889.

Sheila Spence pictured in 1959. Picture: SWNS

Other sides of the tin depicted the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge in California, and The Sandö Bridge in Sweden - although these were black-and-white illustrations on a red background.

A brief history of the Forth Road Bridge heralded the engineering feat, which was going to become the largest suspension bridge in Europe and the fourth largest bridge in the world.

It said: “It is hoped to complete the bridge in 1963 at an approximate cost of £15,000,000.”

And he has messaged eBay sellers advertising the same tin, to check if it came into their hands.

However he has had no luck so far - but has received messages from people in Cumbria and America who became aware of his search.

Dad-of-two Magnus said: “I’ve been looking since January.

“It was during overzealous tidying of the kitchen cupboards when it was thrown out.

“Unfortunately my partner didn’t realise the sentimental value it had.”

In a bid to track down the tin, Magnus, from Burray, Orkney, has put posters up in charity shops and messaged eBay sellers.

He found an identical box but knew it was not the correct one due to a child’s scratches on the metal.

Magnus added: “It is fascinating the way interest has spread.

“Apart from the historical novelty it’s got no value, it’s just a tin. You probably wouldn’t get a fiver for it.”

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