Observatories: Essex

Barclay’s Leyton Observatory [BOLE](1854-86), Knott House,  Knotts Green, Leyton, established by Joseph Gurney Barlay at his residence  and equipped it with a 10-inch Cooke Refractor and employed Hermann Romberg (1862-64) –left Berlin. It was used to re-observe Struve’s Double Star Catalogue, small planets, and new comets with the results published in 1865.  The first observer was replaced by C.G. Talmage (1865-82) from Bishop’s Observatory on the recommendation of Hinds.  The Observatory closed when Talmage died and was given Radcliffe Observatory, Oxford. It was then donated to Marlborough College, Wiltshire, where it was installed in a school observatory – recently fully refurbished (Barclay 2006).

Bradley’s Observatory [BrO], Wanstead (1727-47), established by Revd. James Bradley at the rectory of James Pound – site of Wanstead High School.  It was equipped with a 12 1/2-foot Zenith Sector (1727) by Geo. Graham, London.  The instrument had the advantage of a large field of view and he was able to obtain precise positions of a large number of stars that transited close to the zenith over the course of about two years. This established the existence of the phenomenon of aberration of light, and also allowed Bradley to formulate a set of rules that would allow the calculation of the effect on any given star at a specified date. Later the instrument was moved to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich after Bradley became Astronomer Royal (Howse 1986, 82).

Clacton and District Astronomical Association Observatory [CDAAO] (1974-1997), Clacton County High School, Clacton, established by Clacton and District Astronomical Association. The instruments in the wooden domed structure are unknown (Dwan 2019).

Felsted School Observatory (circa 1930/50s).

Loughton Hall Observatory [LHO] (1969-c.2000s), Debden, established by the Loughton Astronomical Society to house a 16-inch Cassegrain/Newtonian reflector on an equatorial mount (now Dobsonian) and later a 6-inch refractor.  The domed building was located at Loughton Hall an adult education college, before it passed to Epping Forest College. Due to light pollution, access issues and vandalism the observatory was vacated around 2000.

Mobberley’s Observatory  [MobOGB], Great Baddow, Chelmsford (1991-2008), established by Martin Mobberley.  The main Instrumentis being a 19-inch (0.49m) Newtonian reflector housed in a roll off shed (Moore 1996, 177-86).

Munday-Sayer Observatory [MSO] (c.1985- ), Wakes Colne, established by the North Essex Astronomical Society through the efforts of Charles Walter Munday (1915-85) and  Les Sayer ( -2008). The domed building is equipped with a 11-inch SCT, a 4-inch refractor and 16-inch Dobsonian reflector.

Pound’s Observatory [PO] Wanstead, (c.1717-47), established by the Revd. James Pound at Wanstead Park near his home at Wanstead.  Equipped with an ‘aerial telescope’ by Huygens (7.5-inch OG, fl-123feet), on loan from the Royal Society. Here he observed the five known satellites of Saturn, used by E. Halley to correct their movements. Pound trained his sister’s son, James Bradley and many of their observations were made together, including the opposition of Mars in 1719, and the transit of Mercury on 29 October 1723. Their measurement of γ Virginis in 1718 was the first made of the components of a double star and was directed towards the determination of stellar parallax (Howse 1986, 82).

Tomkins’s Observatory [ToO], East House, East Lane, Dedham (c.1924-34), established by Herbert Gerald Tomkins (1869-1934) with a 24-inch Cassegrain reflector for lunar photography (Obit., MNRAS, 95, 332-3; also see Orwell Astronomy Society: History section [http://www.oasi.org.uk]).