© Mrs Joy Roddy LRPS
CLIFTON OBSERVATORY, CLIFTON DOWN (west side)
BRISTOL, BRISTOL, BRISTOL
Mrs Joy Roddy LRPS
12 October 1999
04 March 1977
Date of last amendment:
04 March 1977
The Images of England website consists of images of listed buildings based on the statutory list as it was in 2001 and does not incorporate subsequent amendments to the list. For the statutory list and information on the current listed status of individual buildings please go to The National Heritage List for England.
ST5673SE CLIFTON DOWN, Clifton
901-1/7/749 (West side)
04/03/77 Clifton Observatory
Former windmill, now camera obscura. C18. Camera and extension
of 1828 and 1835 by a Mr West. Carboniferous limestone rubble
with limestone dressings, lead roof to tower, roofless side
block. Single-depth plan.
3-stage round tower with single-storey; 4-window side block.
The battered tower has a first-floor casement window, and
tall, moulded brackets to a rendered top storey containing the
camera obscura with crenellations and casements in the
embrasures. Tudor-arched doorway to the roofless side block,
which has a curved end and 2 segmental-headed windows; the
rear has two 4-centre arched rear windows with torus mouldings
and casements with margin panes, and paired right-hand 2-light
INTERIOR: a winder stair up to the camera obscura in the roof,
and down into a tunnel leading to Ghyston's Cave, in the side
of the gorge.
HISTORICAL NOTE: the windmill was damaged by fire in 1777.
William West leased the mill for conversion into an
observatory in 1828. In 1835 he was granted an extra piece of
land adjacent to the tower on which he built a new
astronomical observatory with a revolving dome and telescope
"to allow unrestricted observation of the heaven". Next to
this was a large room with various astronomical maps, globes
and instruments, intended for occasional use as a lecture
room. The tower was also altered in 1835, by the rebuilding of
the wooden balcony in store and the fitting of the camera
obscura. West also excavated an underground passage to
Ghyston's Cave, opened 1837.
(Chilcott: History of Bristol: Bristol: 1844-).