A HIDDEN message in a bottle from the past has been discovered - warning the people of Southampton of war.

But there’s no need to worry - the risk was 80 years ago.

Stonemasons working to repair Southampton Guildhall found the glass lemonade bottle from 1935 encased in concrete.

Inside it was a pencil written note, which reads: “19th September 1935 Stanley Jeffery, George Groves, Fred Pearce. Mussolini threatens war.”

The message refers to the Abyssinia Crisis in what is modern day Ethiopia, after Italian dictator Benito Mussolini rejected a peace treaty drawn up by the League of Nations, the day before the note was written.

Masons from stonework specialists PAYE uncovered the time capsule during work to restore the stonework across the city’s Grade II listed Civic Centre, under a contract from the city council.

Alex Hannah, Site Manager for PAYE Stonework & Restoration Ltd said: “It’s not every day you stumble on historic treasures such as this message. Our masons took great pride in carefully removing this valued historic item out of its solid concrete casement. Unfortunately the bottle could not be saved but every effort was made in recovering the glass so it could be pieced back together.”

The item has been passed to Southampton City Council’s Arts & Heritage service for restoration and further analysis. They will then be held in the city’s archives and exhibited at a later date.

Councillor Satvir Kaur, cabinet member for communities, leisure and culture said: “It is fascinating when precious items such as these are found in our city, which give us a tantalising glimpse of what life was like in Southampton in years gone by. I’m delighted that this brilliant piece of world history has now been passed to our team of experts here at the council, who will carefully store it in our archives and save it for future generations to enjoy in our exhibitions.”

PAYE now plans to replace the message with a new capsule, containing the names of the masons who made the recent discovery alongside details of the current restoration project.