Shropshire piano treasure: Tuner shocked to strike gold - with pictures

Mid Wales | News | Published:

When piano tuner Martin Backhouse was called in to take a look at three pianos donated to a Shropshire school he did not expect to find anything strange.

The first two were not up to much and while the third looked a little more promising, he thought it would just be like any other turn of the century upright.

But instead the tuner, from Newtown, was soon running to see the headmaster of Bishop's Castle Community College to tell him he had struck gold – quite literally.

The piano had been donated by Meg and Graham Hemmings, from Bishop's Castle.

Mr Backhouse said: "I had started on the piano and was just giving it a general overhaul.

"The keys were sticking and I realised I needed to lift them to free them up.

"As I did so I saw a small package. At first I thought it was moth balls but then I realised it was cloth and there was tac stitching.

"As I opened one up, there was cotton wadding and then some cardboard. Then I saw the gold. I thought it was serious so I went and saw the school's business manager and the headmaster and told them I needed to show them something urgently.


"They wondered what it was and then they came a took a look.

"We took out the rest of the packages and then we very quickly realised that we needed to contact the coroner as I knew something about possible treasure.

"On the whole, I was very calm about it all."

Kathy Dowbiggin, business manager at Bishop's Castle Community College said: "The discovery of hundreds of gold coins in a piano was incredible, exciting and almost unbelievable – and meant that was a day that none of us will ever forget. Clearly this was something that none of us could possibly have imagined and it is hard to say how we felt on making this discovery.


"After the initial shock, surprise and excitement, we had to quickly decide that to do next.

"We photographed the packages in situ, numbered and photographed them and placed them in the school safe.

"If the school were to be a beneficiary from the find, then we think it is only right and fair that the money be used to benefit our students – as well as the whole local community of Bishop's Castle."

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