Observatories: Yorkshire – West Riding

Bermerside Observatory (1867-94), Halifax , established by Edward Crossley, and in 1872 re-equipped with a 9.3-inch Cooke refractor, a 3½-inch Cooke transit, micrometers, and Grubb clock. He employed Joseph Gledhill as observer (1869-1905), and observed doubles, planets and occultations.  In 1885 he acquired the 36-inch Common reflector and for eight years tried to use it, but found the climate hopeless. In 1894 he gave it to the Lick Observatory, where James Keeler proved its worth. The Cooke refractor went to the Carter Observatory in Aukland, NewZealand.

Harewood Lodge Observatory (1901-24), Meltham, nr. Huddersfield , see Brook, Charles Lewis (1855-1939) – third director of the BAA variable star section, 1910-21.

Huddersfield Observatory (1973-current [2017]), Crosland Hill, Huddersfield , established and run by Huddersfield Astronomical & Philosophical Society.

J. A. Jones Hoober Observatory (1993-current [2017]), Rotherham, established and run by the Mexborough & Swinton Astronomical Society (MeSAS).

Leeds University/Cecil Duncombe  Observatory (1905-1936), located at Woodhouse Moor, jointly University and Leeds A.S.  Cecil Duncombe established his private observatory in 1879 on Woodhouse Moor, acquiring from Andrew Common his 18¼-inch silver-on-glass Calver equatorial, clock driven, reflector of 1876. Leeds A.S. had use of and ran the Observatory, which also had a 3-inch Cooke portable transit circle, sidereal clock, and chronograph. There was also a 3-inch Horne & Thornthwaite refractor, and a full set of meteorological instruments (Stroobant 1907; Stroobant 1931; Stroobant 1936).

Placed at the disposal of Leeds University, from 1921-28 the Observatory was supervised by R.S. Pike, Lecturer in Physics, a solar researcher, assisted from 1923 by R. Stoneley, a lecturer in applied mathematics. That year the Observatory was refurbished in anticipation of a course in astronomy and classes in practical work for students in maths and physics. But Stoneley was the last practical observer. In 1934 Mrs Scriven Bolton offered her son’s 23-inch reflector of 1929 with a new mirror, but by 1937 the Observatory was obsolete, and by 1939 its equipment (principally the 18-inch) inoperable. In 1934 Mrs Scriven Bolton offered her sons the 23-inch reflector of 1929 with a new mirror.

Rosse Observatory (1983-current [2017]), Pontefract, built and run by the West Yorkshire Astronomical Society – see below

Richardson Observatory (fl.mid 19th century), established by William Richardson (1804-1878) and located on Pinnar Lane of Highfield Southowram near Halifax.


Scriven Bolton Observatory (1913-1929), Waterloo Lodge, Bramley nr. Leeds, established by Thomas Bolton, where he installed a giant ‘two foot’ reflecting telescope (Armitage 2009).

Sheffield Western Park Observatory (1880-1905), then University Observatory 1905-40s.
In 1879, E. Howarth, Curator of the Museum, accepted the gift of a 6-inch equatorial with nine eyepieces, clock drive, micrometer, wedge photometer, and a small spectroscope, from Thomas Rawson Barker. Howarth spent several days at the Cambridge Observatory courtesy of John Couch Adams, learning to use it. In 1880 the building in Western Park was loaned by the Parks Committee. A Transit Room was built by the Museums Committee and a 2¾-inch transit circle and clock were given by Pembroke College, Cambridge. The public were to have access two nights a week during the winter, and this attracted about 500 a year, considerable interest. In 1905 the Observatory was transferred to the new University, for practical instruction for Honours Maths students studying the spherical astronomy course. No survey or meteorological equipment was available. Apparently no astronomical society was given use of the instrument, and in 1997 the committee of Sheffield A.S. said the whereabouts of the refractor were unknown.