County of London


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.

Ceremonial county of London (1889 to 1965), corresponding to the area known today as Inner London.  The function of the county was superseded with the creation of Greater London covering a much greater administrative area.


Aubert, Alexander (bap. 1730, d. 1805), born in London and educated at Cheam Academy, Surrey, before spending the rest of his childhood in Genoa in Italy.  Here, the Great Comet of 1744 inspired his interest in astronomy.  A career as a successful merchant, becoming director of the London Assurance Company, allowed him to pursue his interests in astronomy, establishing two observatories in Depford and Highbury, both London (ODNB;  Lynn 1900) – see Aubert’s Observatory below.

Bishop, George (1785-1861), born Leicester, wine merchant and astronomer who established an observatory at his home (ODNB)– see Bishop’s Observatory, Regent’s Park.

Carpenter, James (1840-1899) born in Greenwich, was a professional astronomer at the Royal Observatory for 18 years. From 1867 he was responsible to Airy for the ‘Physical Astronomy’ at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, making spectroscopic observations. Colleague and co-author with James Nasmyth (1874) of The Moon: Considered as a Planet, a World, and a Satellite. Their ‘volcanic fountain’ theory of crater formation was deeply flawed (Leatherbarrow 2013).

Babbage, Charles (1791–1871), born London.  Mathematician and computer pioneer he was involved in establishment of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1820.  Babbage occupied  various roles in the society (secretaries, 1820–4 &, 2 7-9;  vice president, 1824 25 and was awarded their gold medal in 1824 for his calculating engine (ODNB).

Barclay, Joseph Gurney [FRAS](1816-1898), in 1861 he sold his 7½-inch Cooke refractor, and established the Leyton Observatory (1862-86) – see Barclay Observatory.

Bayly, William (1737-1810), born at Bishops Cannings, near Devizes (see Hampshire;  ODNB).

Beaufoy, Mark (1764–1827), astronomer and physicist, was born Lambeth, London.  He was taught by William Bayly, who probably instilled his lifelong interest in mathematics and astronomy.  Between 1795 and 1815 he made observations from Hackney Wick and then from Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire from 1818-1827 both using the same five-foot Dollond refractor.  The latter observations were of the satellites of Jupiter which were published by the Royal Astronomical society (ODNB)

Breen, James (1826–1866), FRAS, son of Hugh Breen, English astronomer, was born in Ireland and died at his home in Nunhead, London, aged only 40. An active observer at the Cambridge Observatory from 1846, he left the observatory in 1858, soon after observing Donati’s comet. For an excellent biographical sketch see lan Seymour, AN (Aug. 2001), p.74.

Browne, Henry (1754-1830), astronomer who assisted Captain Kater and Edward Sabine in their experiments in magnetism and pendulums.  Established an observatory at his home at 2 Portland Place (‘Deaths’, Gent Mag, 147  (1830), p.571) – see Browne’s Observatory.

Charles Pritchard Butler (1871-1952), Career in Solar Physics Observatory, London & Cambridge as Senior Assistant Observer 1889-1937, also a Director of BAA Solar Section (see Warwickshire; Obit., MNRAS, 113 (), p.294)

Capron, John Rand (1829-1888), born on 19th February in King Street (now Rufus Street), Hoxton Square, Shoreditch London. (See Surrey)

Christie, William Henry Mahoney, FRS (1845-1922), born Woolwich, educated at Cambridge, became chief Assistant at Greenwich in 1870 and appointed  Astronomer Royal 1881-1910. He modernised the Observatory, adopted aspects of astrophysics, founded The Observatory Magazine and attracted the gift of the Thompson and Yapp telescopes. He died January 22 1922 see below for Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

Cowell, Philip Herbert (1870-1949), born 7 August in Calcutta, India to a father from Ipswich and mother from Aldeburgh, Suffolk.  Educated privately in Stoke Poges (1881-3), then as a ‘Kings Scholar’ at Eton School (1884-9), where he won the Tomline Prize for mathematics. This prize was endowed by George Tomline of Orwell Park (see Tomline entry on Suffolk page ). Cowell graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge (1889–92) as ‘Senior Wrangler’, having worked on celestial mechanics, then elected as a Fellow of the College in 1894.

Appointed as ‘Second Chief Assistant’ at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in 1895 and (see London page) elected as a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1896. Later in 1906 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society for his work on lunar theory.  In 1910 Cowell was appointed as ‘Superintendent of the Nautical Almanac Office’ and then in At the precise (to the hour) age of sixty he retired from employment in 1930 and lived in Aldeburgh up until his death on 6 June 1949.(see Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society, 6 (18) Nov. 1949, 375-84) & Obit.:MNRAS, 110 (2) 1950, 125-8); (ODNB) – see Suffolk page.

Coventry, John (1735-1812), born in Southwark, London. He was a friend of Benjamin Franklin, who appears to have consulted him on questions connected with electrical apparatus.He was the inventor of a new hygrometer, more accurate than any which had been previously in use. He is known to have made a 12-foot refracting telescope which he used to observe the 1769 transit of Venus (ODNB).

Crosthwait, Joseph (1681-1719), chief assistant at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, with Abraham Sharp, completed the publication of Flamsteed’s Historica Coelestis…. after his death (Forbes 1975).

Dawes, Rev. William Rutter (1799-1868) – born “in London” [where?], he trained as a doctor, then became an Independent minister. His father was keen on astronomy, and Dawes began with a very small refractor and Flamstead’s catalogue to observe doubles, and by 1828 had befriended Lassell in Liverpool and observed with him. Although short-sighted himself, he was gifted with exceptionally keen eyesight at the telescope, which he complemented by great skill and persistence in observing method, earning the title “eagle-eyed”. Alvan Clark greatly valued his opinion and the recommendation of his object glasses. Dawes specialised in extremely precise micrometrical observations of double stars, 222 between 1831 and 1838 at his own observatories, another 250 between 1839 and 1944 at Bishop’s Observatory. He also observed planets, discovered Saturn’s crepe or C ring in 1850. Always dogged by poor health, Dawes again exerted himself for the very favourable opposition of Mars in 1864 and drew the best-to-date map. He was awarded the RAS Gold Medal in 1855. He was a very close friend of John Herschel and his family, and for some years they lived near each other in Kent. His observatories were:
1831-39 Ormskirk, Lancs., 3¾” Dollond on Old English mount.
1839-44 assistant at Bishop’s Observatory, working the 7″ Dollond.
1845-50 Cranbrook, Kent (a few miles from John Herschel), 6½” Merz.
1850-57 Wateringbury, near Maidstone, Kent, – 1854 tried 7½” Clark.
1857-68 ‘Hopefield’, Haddenham, Bucks. 1859 8¼” Clark, and 1865 8″ Cooke.
See: MNRAS 15,1 (1854) for the award of his RAS Gold Medal, and especially W.F. Denning, ‘Rev. William Rutter Dawes’, The Observatory, 36 (1913), 419-23 – available on line – for a charming biographical note including amusing stories (ODNB).

Dee, John (1527-1608) born in Tower Ward, London, educated at Chelmsford and Cambridge. At Mortlake he established a library and collection of astronomical instruments (ODNB).

De la Rue, Warren (1815-89), established an observatory (1849-57) at Canonbury (see below), then at Cranford (1857-73) – see  Middlesex page.

Dennett, Frank Compton (1857-1926), lived in Hackney (1891-1926),  insurance agent, science/astronomical writer and lecturer – see Hampshire).

Ebdon, John (1923-2005) John was introduced to astronomy at a young age by his childhood nanny whose enthusiasm for the subject far exceeded her observational abilities. John continued this interest that he learnt for her for the rest of his life.

Following an extremely unhappy Public School education John served in the Second World War in the Royal Air Force. He was caught in the blast of an explosion and his eyes were permanently injured. He was thus not able to taken up his chosen profession of theatre actor as he was unable to cope with the bright theatre lights. Post-war he spent five years working in Kenya, connected with big game hunting and wildlife.

John was firstly Narrator (1960) and then Director (1968) of the London Planetarium which was located adjacent to Madame Tussauds Waxwork Museum on Baker Street. In 1963 John wrote 94 page book entitled “Teach Your Child about the Stars”. John had a second life as a broadcaster for 26 years on BBC Radio 4 presenting a programme of archive material. He would begin with “How do you do” and finish with “If you have been, thank you for listening”. In order to avoid being prosecuted when broadcasting material of a controversial nature Ebdon would attribute the thoughts to his cat ‘Perseus’. When ‘Perseus’ died in 1978 it made the national news (ODNB)

Evans, Lewis [Rev.] (1755-1827), born Bassaleg, Monmouthshire, studied at Merton College, Oxford in 1774, but left without a degree. Ordained and appointed as curate first in Ashbury then Compton, both in Berkshire and lastly at Froxfield, Wiltshire.

In 1799 was appointed first mathematical master at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich which he held until 1820. During the latter part of his life he turned to astronomy and he possessed several valuable instruments and was a skilful and successful observer, having his own private observatory on Woolwich Common. He was elected fellows of both the Royal Society (1823) and the Royal Astronomical Society (ODNB).

Fisher, George, Rev. (1794-1873), born  Sunbury, Middlesex, son of a surveyor.  In 1808 he became a clerk in an insurance company at the age of 14. The encouragement of Humphrey Davy and other scientist allowed Fisher to enter St Catherine’s College, Cambridge in 1817. On the recommendation of the Royal Society, he was then appointed as one of two astronomers on the admiralty Arctic Expedition of 1818.  His role was to take observations for the determination of the Earth’s shape, the results of which were presented, and well received. Fisher again travelled with the Royal Navy expedition to discover the Northwest Passage. He was elected fellow of the Royal Society in 1825 and then to the Royal Astronomical Society in 1827.

He became a headmaster of the Royal Hospital School at Greenwich in 1834 and supervised the planning and construction of an observatory. Some of his astronomical observations were presented at the Royal Astronomical Society, including the transit of Mercury on the 5th May 1832 (Fisher, G., MNRAS, 2 [14] (1832), p.111). Fisher retired to Rugby, Warwickshire in 1863 where he lived until his death (ODNB) – see Middlesex page.

Foster, Edgar William (18 Feb. 1904 – 1987), born Luton, Foster worked at the University of London Observatory at Mill Hill from 1952. He held the post of lecturer from 1953 and  observed several total solar eclipses; from Syd Koster in Sweden on 1954 June 30. Ceylon on 1955 June 20 and Canary Islands on 1959 October 2 (see Mill Hill Observatory).

Fowler, Alfred (1868-1940), born Wilsden, Yorkshire. Educated at the Normal School of Science (later Imperial College). He was assistant and later professor working with Sir Norman Lockyer. An expert spectroscopist, he proved that sunspots are cooler than the surrounding gas (see Yorkshire: North RidingODNB).

Freeman, Alexander (1838-1897) born in Blackheath (Wonersch), Surrey (see Cambridgeshire).

Glaisher, James (1809-1903), meteorologist at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, (see Cambridgeshire; Buckinghamshire & ODNB).

Goodson, Howard  (b.1881-w.1911), born Armley, Leeds, Yorkshire, astronomer at Solar Physics Observatory, South Kensington, London (see below) and Norman Lockyer Observatory (see Yorkshire: West Riding; 1911  English census; ‘Sic Itur AD Astra: A history of the Norman Lockyer Observatory’, JBAA, 25, 25-8).

Green, Charles (1735-1771), born Swinton. In 1761 appointed assistant to Bradley at the ROG. In 1763 he sailed with his assistant Rev. Neville Maskelyne to Barbados to test John Harrison’s fourth timekeeper. Returning to London in 1764, Green found that Astronomer Royal; Bliss had just died. He immediately continued his observations, only to find that Maskelyne obtained the appointment as Astronomer Royal. Green fell out with him, resigned, and joined the Navy. In 1769 at the recommendation of the Royal Society, Green sailed with James Cook on HMS Endeavour, to observe the 1769 Transit of Venus from Tahiti. Disappointingly, discrepancies in results from around the world caused the recording of the Venus transit to be declared a failure. Cook’s voyages as a whole were a huge success though, due to the pioneering anthropological, botanical and zoological work, and the vast improvements in navigation at sea. Cook and Green’s historical drawings of the transit of Venus are preserved for posterity at the Armagh Observatory. Green died of fever two years later. A monument marks the place at Venus Point, Tahiti, where the observations of the transit of Venus were conducted by Cook and Green in 1769 (see Yorkshire: West RidingODNB).

Groombridge, Stephen (1755-1832) was born at Goudhurst. Established his Blackheath Observatory 1806 (ODNB).

Halley, Edmond (1656-1742) – born in Haggerston (a village since engulfed by Hackney), Shoreditch. Educated St Paul’s School, and Queen’s College, Oxford. As an undergraduate he published papers on sunspots, and the solar system, and in vacations observed with Flamstead at Greenwich. After leaving Oxford in 1676 Halley was financed by his father for a two-year expedition to St Helena, and with an aerial telescope of 24-feet focal length he made a catalogue of 341 southern stars (published 1678) to complement Flamstead’s northern catalogue. Halley was a highly productive polymath, and made numerous contributions to the Royal Society concerning weather systems, compasses, and the structure of the Earth. In 1703, despite his known atheism, he was appointed Savilian Professor of Geometry at Oxford. In 1682, just after his marriage, a great comet appeared and Halley observed it from London. In 1705 his study of historical records of comet sightings let him to publish a prediction of the return of the comet of 1682 in 1758 – now known as Halley’s Comet.
Without acknowledging the method proposed by James Gregory in his Optica Promota, in 1716 Halley proposed a high-precision measurement of the Earth-Sun distance by long base-line observations of a Transit of Venus. In 1718 he discovered the proper motion of a few bright stars, including Arcturus and Sirius.
In 1720 he became second Astronomer Royal, but had attacked Flamstead and so angered his widow that she removed all his instruments from the Royal Observatory. Halley commissioned the first transit instrument and devised a method for determining longitude at sea by means of lunar observations. Despite being aged 64, he undertook to observe the Moon through one complete 18-year cycle of revolution of its nodes – and accomplished that! Earlier observations of the Moon had been made only at conjunction or at opposition to the Sun and it was these earlier observations on which Newton’s lunar theory had been based. Halley’s other most notable scientific achievements were his detection of the “long inequality” of Jupiter and Saturn, and of the acceleration of the moon’s mean motion (1693), his theory of variation (1683), including the hypothesis of four magnetic poles, and his suggestion of the magnetic origin of the aurora borealis. Halley died in post in 1742 at the age of 85 (ODNB).

Hartnup, John (1841-1892), was born in Somerset House, London – see Lancashire Page

Herapath, John (1790-1868), born Bristol 1790, to a maltster, he entered his father’s business, though managed to find time to study mathematics and physics. In about 1815 he opened a mathematical academy at Knowle Hill in Bristol. He submitted many papers to learned societies on various subjects relating to physics and mathematics. One such paper was review by Sir Humphry Davy which was rejected as he was uncomfortable with the implication that there was an absolute zero of temperature at which all motion ceased. There is little documented about his astronomical pursuits, but he is credited with discovering the great comet of 1831, on 7th January 1831 (MNRAS, 2 [1] (1831) , p.6). He describes the comet thus: ‘The tail was then nearly perpendicular to the horizon, inclining towards the south, and of a white colour, apparently between 1 degree and 2 degree long. The head was of the same colour as the tail, but, in proportion, far more splendid. To me, it appeared to equal in light stars of the second magnitude, while it exceeded them in size.’ As a journalist Herapath published his own journal and was a controversial figure.  After transferring the editorship to his son he retired from journalism, dying at Catford Bridge, Lewisham, London in 1868 (ODNB).

Hind, John Russell (1823-1895), born in Nottingham, trained at the ROG, in 1844 became Observer at Bishop’s Observatory in Regent’s Park. He discovered 11 asteroids, the 1848 nova in Ophiucus, and his ‘variable nebula’ around T Tauri. He computed many cometary orbits, and from 1853 was superintendent of the Nautical Almanac. At Bishop’s Regent’s Park Observatory he mentored Norman Pogson. Hind, beside John Herschel and Dawes, was known to be one of the finest observers of his day see (see ODNB) – see Nottinghamshire page.

Hollis, Henry Park (1858-1939), educated at Westminister School, London and Jesus College Cambridge.  Worked as an assistant astronomer at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich under Christie and Maunder.  Associated with foundation of the British Astronomical Association and served as president, 1908-1910 (‘obit.’, MNRAS, 100. 249).

Holehouse , Samuel (1791-fl.1846), born Middlesex. Amateur astronomer living in Islington, London, member of the Royal Astronomical Society (‘List of the Fellows of the Society’, MNRAS, 16 (1847), p.567), who reported his occultation observations made a with 7-foot refractor on 23 Oct. 1831 (‘Observations…’MNRAS, 2 [7] (1831), p.43).

Hooke, Robert (1635–1703), born Freshwater, Isle of Wight where he spent part of his childhood before moving to Oxford and then London.  Appointed curator of instruments for the newly established Royal Society of London he was later appointed professor of geometry of Gresham College in 1664. Here in 1669 he established an observatory (see below) to try and measure Stellar Parallax – see below (ODNB).

Hough, Sydney Samuel (1870-1923), born in Stoke Newington, educated St John’s, Cambridge, third wrangler. He achieved the most important work on the theory of tides since Laplace. Chief Assistant at the Cape, 1898 and succeeded David Gill as H.M. Astronomer in 1906. He produced two catalogues of meridian observations, and worked on radial velocities and proper motions (‘Obit’, Obs 46 [1923], p. 269-72).

Huddart, Joseph (1741–1816), born at Allonby, Cumberland.  A Captain, hydrographer and engineer who had an interest in astronomy and naval architecture (ODNB).

Huggins, Sir William (1824-1910), born in St Peter’s, Cornhill, City of London. Achieved fame as a spectroscopist. It is not to detract from his remarkable contributions to note that in recent years Barbara Becker has established that his wife Margaret (née Lindsay in Dublin) was a full collaborator, the one who brought photography to their work, and mastered its techniques, although all their papers were published in his name alone. Huggins and his wife Margaret Huggins (1848-1915) established the Tulse Hill Observatory, Lambeth (ODNB) – see Huggins Observatory.

Jamieson, Alexander (1782-1850) – writer, teacher, and author of his Celestial Atlas (1822), a popular successor to Flamstead’s Atlas Coelestis – was born in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, but his working life was in London, and he was a member of the Astronomical Society of London 1826-33. He lived off Oxford Street, then in Kensington where he had his own school, then by 1824 in Hounslow, and from 1826-38 he had his own Wyke House School in Sion Hill; however he went bankrupt, and then worked as an actuary but his health broke and he descended into poverty.

The definitive note on him is Ian Ridpath (‘Alexander Jamieson, celestial map maker’, A&G, 54 [1] (Feb. 2013), 22-3). Ridpath shows that where Flamstead’s work was expensive and inaccessible to the public, Jamieson later aimed for an affordable edition in English. Despite his denials, he followed the size and arrangement of Johann Bode’s atlas of 1805 (second edition). However, where earlier atlases had closely followed Flamstead’s depictions of the constellation figures, Jamieson’s figures were more appealing. More than 100 constellations are featured on 30 charts or plates. Facsimilies of Jamieson’s charts were published in 1989 in Men, Monsters and the Modern Universe by George Lovi and Wil Tirion. The RAS Library has a copy of the second edition (1805).

Knobel, Edward Ball (1841-1930), born in Baker Street, London. Interested in astronomy as a child, in the 1860s he purchased a 3-inch refractor, and in 1872 an 8½-inch Browning reflector. He made many observations of planets, the Sun and Moon, and specialised in photometry, and made micrometer measurements of doubles. His last observations were of Mars in 1884. he became President of the BAA in 1910 (see ODNB).

Lawson, Henry (1774-1855), born in Greenwich, lived in Hereford – see Somerset.

Lockyer, (Sir) J. Norman (1836-1920) – see St John’s Wood Observatory (1869-71); Solar Physics Observatory (1879-1911) below; and Sidmouth Observatory (Devon Page).

McNally, Dr. Derek, retired Director of ULO described Foster as following;  ‘He was a great builder of spectrographs – somewhat in the style of Heath Robinson. But they worked well and he measured many spectra to useful effect – transition probabilities’.  In retirement Foster died in Birmingham, 1987 (see below – Mill Hill Observatory).

Marth, Albert (1828-1897), observer (1853-55) at Bishop’s Observatory (ODNB; see below).

Maunder, Edward Walter  (1851-1928), born St Pancras.  In 1873 he was appointed to head the Solar Section of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. He is now best remembered for his study of sunspots (ODNB).

Merton, Gerald (1893-1983), born in London, educated Trinity College, Cambridge. Joined the BAA and the RAS in 1922, and served both devotedly. Returned to take a PhD at Cambridge, and mastered computing. For some years, encouraged by Dyson, a volunteer observer at the ROG. In 1940 he moved to Oxford, and from 1946 was a volunteer in the University Observatory. He published 20 major papers, and was an expert on comets and meteors (Dewhirst 1996).

Morgan, Augustus De (1806–1871), born in Madura, India and moved to Britain at the age of ten.  After being privately educated he graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge in Mathematics.  As Mathematician and Historian he was involved the establishment of the Royal Astronomical Society.  He wrote extensively on the history of astronomy and mathematics (ODNB).

Parr, William Alfred (1865-1936), born in Hampstead, London (see Hertfordshire).

Plummer, William  Edward (1849-1928), born near Greenwich at Depford. Trained at the ROG as a computer, and qualifying as an observer on the transit, in 1868 he joined Bishop’s Regent’s Park Observatory. In 1874 Plummer was appointed First Assistant at the new University of Oxford Observatory. In 1892, Plummer was appointed director of the Bidston Observatory, and remained there until his death – see Cheshire.

Pogson, Norman (1829-1891), second assistant (1850-2) at Bishop’s Observatory (ODNB; see below) see Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire.

Proctor, Richard Anthony (1837-1888) was born in Cheyne Row, Chelsea. Astronomer and science writer (Noble 1888; Ranyard 1889; ODNB).

Riddle, Edward (1788–1854 born at Troughend in Northumberland (see Durham).

Rogerson, William (1796-1853), born in Pocklington in Yorkshire.  Appointed as fifth Assistant at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, by John Pond in 1825 on the recommendation of William Richardson, also from Pocklington, who was already working at the observatory (see RGO website).

Saunder, Samuel A. (1852 – 1912), born in London, educated at St Paul’s School, then Trinity College, Cambridge – see Berkshire.

Shackleton, William (1871-1921), born Keighley, 1891 an assistant at the Solar Physics Observatory, London, eclipse expeditions, sometime assistant to Andrew Common (see Obit., MNRAS, 82 (1922), 255-6).

Short, James (1710-68), optical instrument maker with an observatory – see below (ODNB) – see Midlothian.

Smyth, Admiral William Henry (1788-1865), was born in Westminster, London. In 1830 he established a private observatory at Bedford. An active observer, his book Cycle of Celestial Objects encouraged and the setting up of observatories for those able to afford 5 and 6 inch refractors, and the work they could usefully do. In particular this bore fruit as “the Hartwell Synod” of observatories centred on Dr John Lee’s Hartwell house. Smyth was very influential in the RAS Council. His son-in-law was Professor Baden Powell of Oxford. His son Charles Piazzi Smyth (1819-1900) was a brilliant but eccentric and somewhat controversial Astronomer Royal for Scotland 1844-1900.
Smyth suffered a heart attack at his home near Aylesbury in early September, 1865, and at first seemed to recover. On 8 September he showed the planet Jupiter to his young grandson, Arthur Smyth Flower, through a telescope. A few hours later in the early morning of 9 September, at age 78, he died. He was buried in the churchyard at Stone nearAylesbury, where the rector had been his friend and an observatory owning member of the Synod (see Bedfordshire; GlamorganBuckinghamshire – Smyth’s Bedford Observatory; and ‘the Hartwell Synod’; ODNB)

South, Sir James (1785–1867) born in Southwark . He was co-founder of the Astronomical Society of London. He established an observatory at Blackman Street, Southward, 1816-24. In 1826 he planned a larger instrument and purchased a site on Campden Hill, Kensington. Brunel built the tower and dome. South had bought an 11.8-inch glass from Cauchoix for about £1,000 – it would at the time have made the largest refractor in the world. South got in to an acrimonious dispute with Edward Troughton over the mount, and the instrument was never completed. He donated the glass to the Dunsink Observatory, where it was mounted by Thomas Grubb as the South Refractor (ODNB).

Steavenson, William Herbert (1894-1975), born in the Cotswolds and despite losting
vision in his right eye in a childhood accident he became a surgeon. While still at school (Cheltenham) in 1911 he made an independent discovery of comet C/1911 S2. Main astronomical interests were in variable stars, planets and their satellites, and comets. Elected FRAS 1912 (president 1957-195; Jackson-Gwilt Medal 1928). Gresham Professor of Astronomy (see Dewhirst, D. W. Obit., QJRAS, 18, 147-154).

Stone, Edward James (1831-1897), born in London. He was educated at King’s College, London, then Queen’s College, Cambridge, where despite poor health he graduated fifth wrangler in 1859. In 1860 he was appointed Chief Assistant at the ROG to succeed Robert Main. Never keen on observing, and unable to endure the rigours of night work, he concentrated on theoretical astronomy, and during ten years at Greenwich greatly improved some fundamental constants by re-examining observations. In 1870 he succeeded Thomas Maclear as astronomer at the Cape. By ten years hard work he produced the Cape Catalogue of 12,441 stars. He was anxious to return to England, and by Airy’s influence was appointed Radcliffe Observer in 1879. However, he found the observatory obsolete, with no hope of new investment, and was condemned to oversee his assistants making second-class meridian observations by the eye-and-ear method, which could not bear comparison to the work at the ROG. Therefore he directed some of the Radcliffe Observatory’s resources to producing a useful work, the Radcliffe Catalogue for 1890 of 6,424 stars between the equator and -25° Dec., published 1894 (ODNB).

Stratford, William Samuel (1789-1853), born in Eltham, Surrey.  During his schooldays in London, he exhibited exceptional mathematical abilities.  He joined the Royal Navy in 1806 under the command of Sir Sydney Smith, retiring at half-pay with the rank of lieutenant. Stratford was one of the earliest and most active members of the Royal Astronomical Society, acting as secretary from 1825-1831, then vice-president and council member. Amongst his contributions, he performed one set of the duplicate calculations for the original catalogue of the Royal Astronomical Society, then calculated and published an appendix to the Nautical Almanac on the orbit of Halley’s Comet. In 1831 he was appointed Superintendent of HM Nautical Almanac Office, the role he occupied until his death.  In 1832 he was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society (Obit, MNRAS,  14 (1854), 115-6ODNB).

Talmage, George (1840-86), observer (1860-77) at Bishop’s Observatory (Obit. MNRAS, 47 (1887), 142-3) – see below.

Thackeray, A. David (1910-1978), born in Chelsea, educated at Eton and King’s College, Cambridge. While still at school he was an active observer for the variable star section of the BAA. After graduating in 1932 he worked at the Solar Physics Observatory, on the problem of the intensity of Fraunhofer lines in spectra. From 1937-48, apart from service in the Friends Ambulance Unit, he was Chief Assistant at the SPO. In 1948 he was appointed Chief Assistant at the Radcliffe Observatory, Pretoria, where the 74″ reflector was coming in to service as the largest reflector in the southern hemisphere. He devoted himself to its full exploitation, and in 1950 succeeded Knox-Shaw as director until the site closed in 1974. His work gained him credit, that ‘He, more than any other single person, opened up the southern hemisphere to modern astrophysics’ (Feast 1979).

Todd, Sir Charles  KCMG, FRS (7 July 1826 – 29 January 1910)  born in Islington, worked at Greenwich (ODNB).

Tyer, Edward (1830-1912), born Kennington, London (6 Feb.), educated at City of London School and then privately at Mr. Dempster’s School near, Chiswick. Through his scientific knowledge he followed a career in electrical engineering being a pioneer in electrical signalling used in railways. His interest in astronomy developed through contact with the Astronomer Royal, George Biddell Airy when the Royal Observatory, Greenwich was being added to the new telegraphic networks for time signals – distribution of GMT. For many years Tyer had a well equipped private observatory, living in London, Holdenhurst, Hampshire and Surrey. In addition to being a member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers Tyer was a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. He died on Christmas Day 1912, aged 82 and was buried at Busbridge, Surrey (Obit., MNRAS, 74 (1914), p.280).

Wharton, Sir William James Lloyd (1843-1905), born in London.  A Naval officer and hydrographer with an interest in astronomy who observed both the 1874 & 1882 transit of Venus.  He died at the Cape Observatory as a guest of Sir David Gill during a visit by the British Association (‘Obit.’, MNRAS, 66, p.179 ; ODNB).

Whitaker, Ewen A. (b.1922), born Woolwich, a professional astronomer at Greenwich. BAA Lunar Section director 1956-1958, when he joined Gerard Kuiper at Yerkes, and then at Kuiper’s Lunar & Planetary Institute in Arizona where he became a leader in lunar studies, assisting in the drawing of maps used by NASA for the Apollo missions (Bill Leatherbarrow, ‘The Amateur’s Moon’, JBAA, 123, 3 (June 2013), pp. 148-9).

Wrottesley, John, [second Baron Wrottesley] (1798–1867), see below for Blackheath Observatory & Staffordshire.


Aubert’s Observatory [1] (1769-88), Deptford, established by Alexander Aubert with a 3¾” Bird transit, quadrant and Shelton clocks (Howse 1986).

Aubert’s Observatory [2] (1788-1806), Highbury near Islington, established by Alexander Aubert with same instruments as in Deptford (Howse 1986).

Barclay’s Observatory (1854-86) Knotts Green, Leyton, established by Joseph Gurney Barley – main Instrument: 10-inch Refractor (see Barley 2006).


Barley’s observatory at Knott House, Leyton


Knott House, Leyton





Brocklebank Observatory, (1932), University College, London. In the 1930s the University of London was the only university in England to offer a first degree in astronomy. This teaching observatory was established on the roof. Equipment a 10″ Calver reflector, a Grubb chronograph, and a Rowland grating. A small ancillary observatory, the Equatorial House, a gift of the Chadwick Trust, had been established in the courtyard in 1904 and mounted originally a 4½” refractor and latterly a 6″ Cooke of 1863. The Drapers Observatory, a gift of the Drapers company in 1904, housed a 3½” Cooke transit. The observatories were actively used until damaged during World War II, so that they were closed in 1946 and the instruments moved to Mill Hill Observatory (see below entry).

Bishop’s Observatory [1](1836-61) South Villa, Regents Park, the home of George Bishop (1785-1861), now the site of Bedford College, ‘The Regents Park Observatory’ was built and equipped upon the advice of [Admiral] William Smyth, with a 7″ Dollond refractor of 11-feet focal length on an Old English mounting, at that time a powerful instrument. Dawes used it 1839-44 to measure double stars. In 1844 the solar system comprised the seven major planets and the four minor planets (asteroids) discovered between 1800 and 1807. In December 1845, after a fifteen year search, Karl Hencke, a German amateur discovered the fifth asteroid, Astraea. In September 1846 came the sensational discovery of Neptune. Bishop decided to devote his observatory to searching for planets. From November 1846 Bishop’s assistant John Hind (1823–1895) began a systematic search using the newly available Berlin charts, he discovered two comets, and by October 1847 two asteroids, and in September 1850 his third, Victoria, but by then his health was strained. By 1854 he had discovered ten. Meanwhile Bishop engaged Norman Pogson [1850] then Eduard Vogel [1852] as second assistants, and when Hind left in 1853 he engaged from 1853-55 Albert Marth, and in 1860 George Talmage. Upon Bishop’s death the instruments and dome were taken by his son to establish the new Meadowbank Observatory at Twickenham (Howse 1986).

Browne’s Observatory (1825-8), established by Henry Browne () at his home 2 Portland Place, London.  Here he conducted experiments with Captain Kater on pendulums and gave Edward Sabine advice on magnetic instruments (Howse 1986)

Buckingham’s Observatory (1861) Wandsworth Common, London. There are notes of John Buckingham making a 21″ refractor exhibited in 1862, and then erecting it on Wandsworth (or Waltham?) Common. This needs more research. What is certain is that in 1889 it was sold for £700 to Edinburgh Council for the Calton Hill Observatory, where it was mounted by 1898. In 1926 it was dismantled and scrapped.

Green, Charles (1735-1771), born Swinton. In 1761 appointed assistant to Bradley at the ROG. In 1763 he sailed with his assistant Rev. Neville Maskelyne to Barbados to test John Harrison’s fourth timekeeper. Returning to London in 1764, Green found that Astronomer Royal; Bliss had just died. He immediately continued his observations, only to find that Maskelyne obtained the appointment as Astronomer Royal. Green fell out with him, resigned, and joined the Navy. In 1769 at the recommendation of the Royal Society, Green sailed with James Cook on HMS Endeavour, to observe the 1769 Transit of Venus from Tahiti. Disappointingly, discrepancies in results from around the world caused the recording of the Venus transit to be declared a failure. Cook’s voyages as a whole were a huge success though, due to the pioneering anthropological, botanical and zoological work, and the vast improvements in navigation at sea. Cook and Green’s historical drawings of the transit of Venus are preserved for posterity at the Armagh Observatory. Green died of fever two years later. A monument marks the place at Venus Point, Tahiti, where the observations of the transit of Venus were conducted by Cook and Green in 1769 (ODNB).

De la Rue’s observatory (1849-57), Canonbury, Islington.

Evans’s observatory (1799-1820),  Woolwich, established by Revd. Lewis Evans an furnished with 2-foot transit circle of 1810 by Troughton – later the ‘Lee Circle’ at Smyth’s Bedford Observatory (Howse 1986).

Greenwich Hospital School Observatory  (1849/59 -1930s), in operation by 1860, with instruments by Gilbert donated by the Admiralty, which were made for the East India Company – St Helena Observatory.  The building in Portland stone was originally fitted with two cylindrical domes but later extended with a larger 13-foot that probably housed the Lawson Telescope, a 11-inch refractor (Turner 1990).  This telescope owned by Henry Lawson (1774-1855) was original offered for the establishment of an observatory in Nottingham, but when the finances failed to materialise it was donated to the Royal Hospital School.

RHS Obs1RHS Obs2

The observatory at the Royal Hospital School was established under the supervision of the Rev. George Fisher (1794–1873) who was appointed headmaster in 1834 (ODNB). Fisher reported observations of the 1860 solar eclipse made from the observatory (Fisher 1860).

Groombridge’s Observatory (1806-32), established by Stephen Groombridge at his home at Blackheath. As a youth he taught himself astronomy, and then had a small observatory built at Goudhurst. After moving in 1802 to 6 Eliot Place, Blackheath, less than a mile from the Royal Observatory, he converted a stable adjacent to his dining room into an observatory. He persuaded Edward Troughton to build him a large reversible transit circle, of 3½” aperture and 5-feet focal length. It was superior to any meridian instrument in Europe. With it the observer could observe simultaneously the RA and Dec of an object at a single observation. So began the huge amount of meticulous observation and many years of reduction that eventually yielded his famed catalogue of 4243 circumpolar stars for epoch 1810, published in 1838 (Howse 1986).

Hampstead Observatory (1910- ), Hampstead Heath, established by the Hampstead Astronomical and General Scientific Society was formed in 1899 to utilise the gift of Colonel Henry Heberden’s 10.5-inch reflector. The observatory was completed in 1910 on top of the Metropolitan Water Board’s underground reservoir on the highest site in London. Observing was led by Patrick Hepburn as joint Astronomical Secretary, who later became director of the BAA’s Saturn Section.

The principal instrument today is a 6-inch Cooke refractor (origin c.1900) presented in 1923 by George Avenell. The original Observatory was completely refurbished in 2011-12, and now continues its long tradition of public viewing nights (see URL).

Hooke’s Observatory (1669), Gresham College, Bishopsgate, City of London, established by Robert Hooke at his college quarters.  He install a 36-foot Zenith Telescope to a attempt to measure Stellar Parallax (Howse 1986).

Huddart’s Observatory (c.1788-1816?), established by Captain Joseph Huddart at his house at Highbury Terrace, Islington, London (Howse 1986)

Imperial College Observatory (1903-31), established after Norman Lockyer retired as director of the Solar Physics Observatory, his son William took over. The instruments belonged to the Lockyers. But Lockyer’s former assistant the brilliant spectroscopist Alfred Fowler (1868-1940) had now achieved independent status teaching laboratory spectroscopy to students of astrophysics at the Royal College of Science. He borrowed a 6″ Cooke ‘Simms No. 2’ refractor from the ROG, and a small transit instrument, installed them in a roof-top observatory, and in 1905 added a 2-prism Evershed spectroscope, and in 1905 a 5″ Zeiss triplet and object-glass prism. With this equipment his students observed sunspot and solar prominence spectra, and co-operated with the IUCSR. Between 1914 and 1924 they had no instruments as they had not been returned from the Russian solar eclipse expedition, but in 1925 Fowler’s successor Assistant-Professor Herbert Dingle (1890-1978) was able to resume instruction on the former basis. See: Solar Physics Observatory (below).

Lockyer’s Observatory (1869-71), St John’s Wood, established by Norman Lockyer moving his observatory from Wimbledon in 1869, and adding a spectroscopic laboratory to the 6¼” refractor, 1865 Herschel-Browning grating, and 1869 7-prism spectroscope. When he at last obtained a post at the Royal College of Science, Kensington, he moved his equipment there.

Marlborough House Observatory (c.?-c.1772), established by George Spencer,  fourth duke of Marlborough (1739–1817) at his London house in St James, Westminster.  His main instrument was an 18-inch reflector by James Short (1742), which he donated to the University of Oxford in 1779 (Howse 1986; ODNB)

Royal Observatory, Greenwich [ROG] (1675-1958).  The Observatory was in Kent until 1889, then the County of London. Between 1948 and 1958 it was moved to Herstmonceux Castle in Sussex. See: Sussex page, for Royal Greenwich Observatory, Herstmonceux [RGO] (1957-1990). See: Krisciunas 1988 – for an excellent summary history of the ROG set within the international context.


Flamstead, John (1646-1720), born Derbyshire – first Astronomer Royal 1675-1720, his catalogue of 2,935 tripled the catalogue of Tycho Brahe. He had a 7-foot iron equatorial sextant by Edmund Silvester and Thomas Tompion, two Tompion clocks, and a 3-foot wooden quadrant. These were barely adequate, but provided the data for Newton to derive his refraction tables, and enabled Newton to formulate his theory of lunar motion for Principia (1687). In 1689 an inheritance from his father enabled Flamstead to obtain a 7-foot mural arc by Abraham Sharp.  Flamstead’s new observations (ODNB)

Halley, Edmond (1656-1742), born Haggerston, Middlesex – second Astronomer Royal 1720-42. At the ROG he devised an improved method for determining longitude at sea from lunar observations, and in 1725 re-equipped the Observatory with an 8-foot iron quadrant by George Graham, a prototype for many instruments of Jeremiah Sisson and John Bird. At the age of 64 he undertook to observe a complete 18 year lunar cycle, and duly completed it. The Board of Longitude required observations to an accuracy of 1′ (arc minute) or better, which remained elusive (ODNB).

Bradley, James (1693-1762), born Surrey – His observations using a 12½-foot zenith sector at Pond’s Observatory, Wanstead, Essex, between 1725 and 1747 led him to discover aberration and nutation. Appointed third Astronomer Royal 1742-62, he ordered an 8-foot brass mural quadrant and 8-foot transit by John Bird. This transit defined the Greenwich meridian from 1750 to 1816. In 1750 these instruments and Bradley’s zenith sector were mounted in a new observatory building. He began a catalogue of some 60,000 stars and achieved unprecedented accuracy. This was due in part to his devising improvements to instruments – improving Flamstead’s micrometers, obtaining better pendulum regulators for time, and having the quadrants made of one metal, brass, but especially to his identifying and correcting for instrument error (his new standard of observing method), observer error, temperature, and applying corrections for aberration and nutation to the reduction. Thus he achieved an accuracy to 1 arc second in declination and 1/6th of a second of time in RA., an improved accuracy for declination measurements of 60-fold compared to Tycho, and 10-fold since Flamstead in 1690. Bradley by these means made a crucial contribution to reforming useful astronomy, and established the ROG’s enduring reputation. It was this standard of accuracy, when applied after 1771 to observing the orbit of newly discovered Uranus, revealed its perturbations, and led in 1846 to the sensational prediction by le Verrier and discovery of Neptune (see; ‘Pure Research and Practical teaching: the Astronomical Career of James Bradley, 1693-1762’, Notes & Records Royal Soc., London, 47 (2), (1993), 205-212; ODNB; Gloucestershire).

Bliss, Rev. Nathanial (1700-64) – fourth Astronomer Royal 1762-64, held office insufficient time to make an impact (see ODNBGloucestershire).

Maskelyne, Rev. Nevil (1732-1811) – fifth Astronomer Royal 1765. In 1766 he founded and published the first issue of the Nautical Almanac (i.e. for the year 1767). This proved to be a most valuable aid to navigation and Maskelyne was personally responsible for its annual publication for 44 years until his death (ODNB).

Pond, John (1767-1836) – born in London, sixth Astronomer Royal 1811-35. He gained the appointment because of his reputation as an excellent practical astronomer who had analysed the errors of the ROG’s quadrant. He reformed the observatory and its practices, but his tenure was ruined by poor health and lack of control of his assistants. Latterly the ROG failed to generate, reduce, and print each year the accurate observations essential to the Nautical Almanac (ODNB).

Airy, George Biddell (1801-92) – born Alnwick, Northumberland, educated Trinity College, Cambridge, professor and director of the Cambridge Observatory 1826-35. The well known inefficiency of the Royal Observatory stimulated Airy to make Cambridge an exemplar – producing first class observations and reducing and publishing them each year. He thereby became the only candidate to succeed Pond. Airy was seventh Astronomer Royal 1835-81. He reformed the staffing, took Cambridge high wranglers as Chief Assistants, restricted the Observatory to public utility – meridian observations reduced by schoolboy computers using standard forms, published the year’s observations each year, and designed and in 1850 installed a huge 8-foot transit circle with automatic recording. Bradley had achieved an accuracy of 1″ Dec. and about 1/6th of a second in RA, Airy’s transit achieved and accuracy of hundredths of an arc second.
Airy left all extra-meridian work and ‘astronomical physics’ to the Grand Amateurs, insisted that Presidents of the RAS should be practical astronomers and fought to maintain the Society’s standards. His reputation with some contemporaries was marred as being ‘the man who failed to find Neptune’, but that should not detract from his wider achievements. An engineer, not himself an observer, he led the ROG to a world leadership position in astronomy, and ignored the chaffing of his critics (see ODNB; Suffolk).

Christie, William Henry Mahoney (1845-1922), born at Woolwich, at that time still in Kent – eighth Astronomer Royal 1881-1910. An excellent obituary by H.H. Turner paints vivid picture of the ROG being on the verge of stagnation in a fast moving international context for astronomy, and the difference that Christie made (see Observatory (March 1922), 77-81, available on-line). Christie engaged with astrophysics, built the new Physical Observatory, and attracted the donation of the Thompson double telescopes. Turner credits him with reasserting the link between mathematics and astronomy by bringing high wranglers in to the Chief Assistant posts, to the great long-term benefit of British astronomy (ODNB).

Dyson, Frank Watson (1868-1939), born Measham, Leicestershire, educated in Yorkshire then Trinity, Cambridge. The ninth Astronomer Royal 1910-33, a noted eclipse observer and expert on the solar corona, in 1924 he inaugurated the wireless broadcast of accurate GMT by wireless ‘pips’. Dyson rose to the great opportunity of the 1919 eclipse to prove Einstein’s theory, and succeeded (see ODNB; Leicestershire).

Jones, Sir Harold Spencer (1890-1960), born Kensington (Middlesex until 1889), tenth Astronomer Royal 1933-55. In ten years at the Cape from 1923-33 he did important work in stellar catalogues and radial velocities. At the ROG he redetermined the solar parallax from world-wide observations of Eros 1930-31. He brought into operation two important new instruments: the 36-inch Yapp Reflector (1932) and the reversible transit circle, which replaced Airy’s instrument of 1850. Major new programmes addressed latitude variation, and more accurate time. He instigated the move from Greenwich to Herstmonceux, and played a key role in specifying and obtaining the Isaac Newton 100-inch reflector (ODNB).

Observatories cont’d

Huggin’s Tulse Hill Observatory, Lambeth (1856-1908), established by William Huggins at his Upper Tulse Hill home, south of the river Thames. In May 1856 he had a 5-inch Dollond, and observed mostly planets. But in 1858 he purchased an 8″ object glass by Alvan Clark from Dawes, and had it mounted by Cooke (in 1868 he sold the instrument to Charles J. Corbett of Thames Ditton, Surrey). In 1870 he had the Cooke mounting adapted to carry a 15-inch refractor or 18-inch Grubb Cassegrain reflector funded by the Royal Society ( which was controversial, when others also sought funding). In 1882 the mounting was improved to carry both instruments coaxially. In 1859 Kirchoff’s discovery had inspired him to study stars spectroscopically. His neighbour Dr Miller, a chemist, helped him build a spectroscope. In 1862 his report to the Royal Society identifying elements in space was received on the same day that the Society received the report of Rutherford’s work. In 1864 Huggins proved that the Draco nebula was gaseous. In 1875 he tackled dry-plate photography as soon as that method was available, and subsequently his wife Margaret has been fully recognised for her vital contribution to their work for which he received most of the contemporary credit. She spent many hours of skilled guiding at the telescope, so that they achieved a sharpness of definition in the photographs that was hard to surpass. They also established the motion of stars in the line of sight.

In 1908 the instruments, owned by the Royal Society, were given to the Solar observatory at Cambridge, which helped considerably to consolidate the University’s national leadership in astrophysics.

Mill Hill Observatory, 1929-current (2015)
The observatory of the University of London, at Hendon.
In 1924 the 24″ Grubb reflector of 1881 was offered by J.G. Wilson of Daramona Observatory, Ireland. It was accepted, with its 1893 mount, and a 10-ft Rowland grating spectrograph, and Cooke coelostat. Hendon Council granted a long lease at nominal rent. The University Senate granted £5,000 and all the colleges contributed – a rare example of corporate consensus and generosity in founding a university observatory.
The building was opened October 1929, for the use of students of all the colleges in the Faculty of Science. In 1935 when the Radcliffe Observatory moved from Oxford to South Africa, the Astronomer Royal Sir Frank Dyson effected the offer of the Radcliffe 24″/18″ photo-visual Double Refractor and its dome. These were accepted, and the telescope installed in its new building in June 1938.
In the 1990s the Double Equatorial was completely refurbished, and is cherished and regularly used. See: the Observatory’s excellent website; also Hutchins, British University Observatories (2008).

Russell’s Observatory (c.1777), 156 Strand, London, established by William Russell (Howse 1986)

Solar Physics Observatory, South Kensington, London (1879), established by Norman Lockyer with an annual government grant then moved to the site of the University Observatory, Cambridge when funding was transferred to Cambridge University. Observers employed include  Charles Pritchard Butler (1871-1952); Howard Goodson (b.1881-w.1911); William Shackleton  (1871-1921).

Short’s Observatory (1760-68) established by James Short, his home and premises in Surrey St., off the Strand,  Westminster, London (Howse 1986).

Solar Physics Observatory (1879-1911), South Kensington, London.  Stimulated by the establishment of Potsdam in 1874 and Meudon in 1876, this observatory was established 1879 by J. Norman Lockyer, state supported for the Normal School of Science where he taught undergraduates, later the Royal College of Science (1890), later Imperial College (1910) . Lockyer, a clerk in the War Office, had already made his mark with discoveries from his observatory at home. Now he gained a government post, a £500 pa. grant, rooms in the College. Equipment was a 30-inch Common reflector, 10-inch Cooke refractor with several siderostats and spectroscopes, and a 9-inch Henry reflector.

The telescopes were mostly his, with use of College rooms, his ‘temporary’ observatories in the garden behind the building, his salary of £800 p.a., and the precedent of state funding of the Observatory which was very controversial within the RAS. The SPO was now as astrophysical observatory in a comparable position to the Royal Observatory at Edinburgh. In 1890 Lockyer started what became 30 years research on the spectroscopic classification of stars, and in 1901 his retirement from the College enabled him to concentrate on that research.

There was no clash with the ROG while Lockyer concentrated on sunspot spectra, but at the turn of the century interest in the solar-terrestrial links increased, and he used the ROG meteorological data. Astronomer Royal Christie complained at lack of acknowledgement and at state funding for work which was properly the ROG’s (see Meadows, 1975).
Lockyer in 1888 employed Alfred Fowler (1868-1940), and then in 1891 William Shackleton (1871-1921) as his assistants. When Lockyer reached statutory retirement age at the College, he continued to direct the SPO which had recently received a new Treasury grant, and the College lost the use of the Observatory. Fowler left the SPO to become Assistant Professor at the College; he established there what became (in 1910) the Imperial College Observatory (above).

Lockyer expected his son William to continue directing the SPO, but when the question of relocating it to a more suitable site arose, Cambridge University managed a secret coup to bring the SPO, its all-important grant, and the new loan of the Huggins instruments, to the Cambridge Observatory. Its quite a story – see Meadows (1975), and Hutchins(2008).

South’s Observatory  [1](1816-24), Southwark, established by James South at Blackman Street. At first he only had a 3¾-inch Dollond of 5-feet focal length. In 1820 he acquired a superb 5″ Tully achromatic refractor of 7-foot focal length, and borrowed a 4-inch Troughton transit from the ROG. With this instrument South and John Herschel in 1821-23 observed and completed a Catalogue of 380 double stars, which gained them the joint RAS Gold Medal in 1924. In the following year South observed a further 458 doubles, for which he was awarded another Gold Medal in 1826 (Howse 1986).

South’s Observatory  [2](1826-70), established by James South at Campton Hill, Kensington, London.  Built to house a new 11.8-inch refractor mounted by Edward – see James South (Howse 1986).

Wrottesley’s Blackheath Observatory (1829-41), established by Sir John Wrottesley to house a 4″ transit by Thomas Jones for taking RA only. From 1831-35 he made ten observations of each of 1,318 stars of 6th and 7th magnitude, a catalogue published by the RAS in 1836, for which he received the RAS Gold Medal in 1839. In 1841 he moved the observatory to Wrottesley House, Staffordshire, and added a 7¼” Dollond refractor (Howse 1986).


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