The Society would be delighted to hear from anyone with more information about this county’s links with astronomy. Can you add anything to the names of the people and places listed below? Please contact me if you have anything however small.
Would you like to adopt this county? Please contact me – see below
Bazley, Thomas Sebastian. [2nd Bt.] (1829-1919), later of Hatherop Castle, Fairford, Gloucestershire. He seems to have had a substantial observatory, donating a 10-inch Cooke refractor to Manchester Physics Institute, and lending a 6-inch Cooke refractor, transit and chronograph, to Joseph Baxendell, Snr., defraying the cost of their removal and re-housing in Southport. Baxendell put the instrument to very good use for a decade (see: ODNB; Joseph Baxendell Lancashire).
Bliss, Nathaniel (1700-64), born in Bisley in the Cotswolds. Educated at Pembroke College, Oxford, and was trained by Bradley. In 1762 he became the fourth Astronomer Royal but had too little time in office to make an impact (see ODNB; County of London).
Bradley, James (1693-1762) born at Sherborne, was educated at Northleach and at Balliol College, Oxford. Appointed vicar of Bridstow, Monmouthshire in 1719. He became Professor of Astronomy at Oxford in 1721 and Astronomer Royal of England in 1742. Best remembered for his work between 1750 – 1762 … the accurate determination of the position of 60,000 stars, the basis of modern statistical astronomy. He died July 13, 1862 (see ODNB; County of London; Surrey; Essex).
Brown, Elizabeth (1830-1899), born Further Barton, Hampton Road, Cirencester. Astronomer and meteorologist. Member of Liverpool A.S. (1883) which unlike the RAS accepted women members, and she became director of its solar section. Initially she had an aged 3-inch refractor. Later she had an observatory at her home, with 3½-inch clock driven equatorial, and a 6½-inch reflector. She became a founder of the BAA, and director of its solar section (ODNB; Creese, Mary, ‘Elizabeth Brown etc.’, JBAA, 108  (1998), 193-7).
Player, John (1842-1930), industrialist of John Player and Sons of Clydach Tinplate Works. Also a keen amateur astronomer who erected an observatory on a tower attached to his home at Thirlestaine Hall, Cheltenham in Gloucestershire (see Grace’s Guide).
Redman, Roderick Oliver (1905-1975), born at Rodborough, near Stroud. Educated there, then at St john’s College, Cambridge. Trained by Eddington at the Cambridge Observatory, he used a travelling fellowship to work at the Dominion Observatory for three years using the 72-inch reflector to gather data on radial velocities. He completed his PhD in 1930, and in 1931 became Assistant Director of the Solar Physics Observatory at Cambridge. In 1938 he moved to become Chief Assistant at the Radcliffe Observatory which was being established in South Africa with a 74-inch reflector (see ODNB; Obit, QJRAS, 17 (1976), 80-86).
Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Cheltenham, Gloucs (1897-?). Although astronomy has been taught at the college since the 1850s, first by former head Miss Doreatha Beale for 48 years, the observatory was not erected until 1897. The domed structure erected on the college buildings is still extent, but it is not clear whether any instruments survive. (see Cheltenham_Ladies_College)
Thirlestaine Hall, Cheltenham, Glouc. (1914-1930), owned and used by John Player. The building and dome is still extant, it used to house a 3-inch transit instrument, a sidereal regulator clock and a 6-inch equatorial refractor ordered from Cooke & Sons in 1914. The telescope was later owned by Reginald Lawson Waterfield. Its later history has been decribed in print by a later owner (see Hendrie, M. J., ‘A run-off roof observatory’, JBAA, 104 (1994), p.303). The hall was until recently the head office of Chelsea Building Society, but vacated due to merger with the Yorkshire Building Society and then converted into luxury flats (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chelsea_Building_Society).
Societies and Organisations
Bristol Astronomical Society (BrisAS), founded (?). Members (120 – 2018) meet weekly at Unit 13, Montpelier Central, Station Road, Montpelier, Bristol (BS6 5EE) and observing session at the sociey’s Failand Observatory at Failand, Near Wraxall (BS8 3US).
Cam and Dursley Astronomy Club (CDAC), founded 2010. Group appear defunct since Spring 2017.
Cotswold Astronomical Society (CAS), founded in 1981, its first meeting was held at Churchdown near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire to encourage astronomy, for both beginners and the more experienced. The members (150-2016) meet at Shurdington Social Centre, Cheltenham (GL51 4TB).
Can you add names and places to this county?
Astronomers, Observatories and anything appertaining to the History of Astronomy.
Gloucestershire Archives, Clarence Row, Alvin Street, Gloucester, GL1 3DW. Tel: 01452 425295