Observatories: Cheshire

Bidston Observatory [BiO] (1867-1914), Bidston, Birkenhead, first established as the Liverpool  City Observatory [LCO] in Waterloo Dock, Liverpool. Later in 1856 it was transferred to the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. In 1867 they relocated to Bidston Hill on the Wirral. The Observatory’s role was to test chronometers and give time to the city. The equipment was a 4-inchTroughton & Simms transit, and a 8½-inch Merz equatorial with 4-foot circles by Simms, of 1845. The Director was John Hartnup, once one of Airy’s computers at the ROG, and recommended by him. His task was the demanding one of observing faint planets during daytime as they cross the meridian, to relieve Professor Challis at Cambridge of that task until Airy’s new Meridian Circle was ready. Later the Observatory was connected to Liverpool University and its Tidal Institute, which occupied the building after 1919. Two seismographs 1897-1950s, surveying until the 1950s. meteorology section. No astronomy was done after 1914 with the original telescopes dismounted c.1970 (Scoffield 2006).

Bidston_Observatory Web

High Legh Community Observatory [HLCO] (2014- ), Abbey Leys Farm, High Legh, established by a group of amateur astronomers as a community project. The fibre glass domed observatory houses a 12-inch SCT reflector along with a selection of portable instruments.

Hudson’s Observatory [HOWK] (c.1910s-1920s), 16 Dunraven Road, West Kirby, established by George Henry Hudson who described himself as astrologer and Prof. Rubinstein Hudson of music. Nothing is known of its instruments but the building appears substanial with a cooper dome (Chapman 2017).

Jodrell Bank Observatory [JBO] (1945- ), established as the Jodrell Experimental Station which became the Nuffield Radio Astronomy Laboratories (1966-99). Developed by Sir Bernard Lovell the site is home to the famous Lovell Telescope, one of the largest steerable radio telescope in the world. The facility is part of  the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics – Alan Turing Building, The University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL; Tel +44 (0) 1477 571321 (Lovell 1985).

Roberts’s Rock Ferry Observatory [RRO] (1878-82), Rock Ferry, Birkenhead, established by Isaac Roberts as a roof -top observatory, with rotating dome, at his home at 26 Rock Park.  It was initially furnished with a 7-inch Cooke refractor on an equatorial mount which also carried various portrait lenses and a 5-inch Cooke triplet.  The observatory was dismantled when Roberts moved to Maghull a small village on the edge of Liverpool in 1883 (Obit., Proc.RSLon., 75, 356-62; James 1993).

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