Appeal for help to solve 40-year mystery over message in a bottle from Sunderland found in the Caribbean

A message in a bottle which was sent from Sunderland more than 40 years ago is in the spotlight – and Echo readers could hold the key to its answers.

Tuesday, 1st February 2022, 11:47 am

American musician Clint Buffington runs a website called Message in a Bottle Hunter (

It shares true stories of messages found by people including himself. One of his finds prompted him to get in touch with the Sunderland Echo.

Clint, who lives in Indiana, said: “For a few years, I have been absolutely stumped by a message in a bottle I found in the Caribbean that was sent by someone from Sunderland, Tyne and Wear (possibly on a cruise?). I believe the message to be quite old - from at least the 1980s, but more likely the 1970s.”

Clint Buffington with the mystery bottle.

He added: “I think we are all just in need of some happy news these days, and I am hopeful that the quest to solve this message in a bottle could provide a little joy. And if we are lucky, my hope is that it will have a very happy ending!”

More details of the bottle with Wearside origins can be found at

Clint said he suspects ‘that the message in a bottle had been sailing the high seas for decades when I found it – perhaps since the 1970s’

He added: “Glass soda bottles with metal caps like this haven’t been common since the 1980s. This particular shape struck me as more like a 1970s bottle.”

Clint with the mystery bottle which is thought to come from Sunderland. Photo: Clint Buffington.

The details on it show that the author’s name begins with Bar and appears to be no more than 6-8 letters long.

The surname begins with “Sy…” and appears to be quite short. It could be Syd, or Sykes, or Symes, or even maybe as long as Sydney.

The last bit of information is the street address. I cannot see a number, but the name of the street appears to begin “Tow…” and could be any of Sunderland’s “Tower Roads” or possible “Townsend” or something along those lines.

“Based on current street names in Sunderland, I think the following are the streets most likely to match the message:

A close-up view of the bottle.

Toward Road, Tower Street, Tower Street West, Townsend Road, Townsend Square.”

Read More

Read More
9 pictures of demolished Sunderland pubs, clubs and hotels - from the Prospect t...

Support your Echo and become a subscriber today.

The message which was inside the bottle.

Enjoy unlimited access to all of our news and sport, see fewer ads, experience faster load times, test your brain with daily puzzles and get access to exclusive newsletters.

Your support for our journalism means we can continue telling Sunderland’s stories for generations to come. Click here to subscribe - and click here to get a snapshot of the Echo’s news and sport to your inbox through our email newsletters.

Clint with his amazing find from Sunderland.
The remains of the message.