Charterhouse School Observatory (photographs c.1981)

During the period 1981-83 I was very lucky to be offered a key to the wonderful school observatory on top of the Victorian Science Block.   The telescope was, I think, a 4 inch refractor with beautiful brass screw eyepieces.   It was a real privilege to observe here. I can still remember the intense blue of the Pleiades at around 40x, an experience made surreal by the red lightbulbs and the sound of water in the roof tanks under the observing table.   I also used the roof platform around the dome for binocular observing, an interest I still pursue.  

Hardly anyone else used the observatory, so for my last 2 years at school it was virtually a personal apartment for me, a place where I could be at peace, enjoy reading, photography and astronomy.   This experience has provided an emotional legacy that has travelled with me since, and certainly forms the basis of my night landscape photography and the resulting Nightfolio.    It also gave me a less serious interest dabbling in pure astronomical photography from time to time (example).

All things change eventually, and I understand the old telescope has been replaced by a large computer driven reflector.   I am sure they have also fixed the dodgy railings outside the dome!

<< This old hand tinted postcard shows Charterhouse Hall on the left and the Science Block on the right.   The Observatory can be seen just above the Science Block clock.   The postcard does not have a date on it, but the dealer I bought it from believed it was made around 1910.   The publisher was Field Brothers, 24 High Street, Godalming.

This scene was remarkably similar in my day, the only major exception was the large clump of bushes at the lower right of the card, I remember this area being tarmacked.