Landscaping the Observatory

Landscaping the Observatory

The photograph shows the landscaping work which is presently being carried out in the grounds of the Calton Hill observatory. Now that the landscaping is nearing completion, residents of Edinburgh with an interest in the city’s history can’t wait to see inside the building where so much important scientific work was carried out. Astronomers and historians with an interest in the history of timekeeping will flocking to the observatory from all over the world when the doors finally open to see the telescopes, clocks and scientific instruments.

Guernsey Blomefield Gun

Guernsey Blomefield Gun

Although the Blomefield gun was standard issue on naval vessels, the guns were also used by the military. Two thirty pounders were set up in Castle Cornet, Guernsey in 1826. By 1870 the garrison had nine guns. Known as the curfew gun, a nine pounder was fired at noon and at 21.30 to recall the soldiers back to barracks. It was later replaced by an eighteen pounder. Although the signal was discontinued in 1923 it was re-introduced in 1974 as the ceremony of the noon day gun.  image credit Guernsey Museums & Galleries

Observatory Landscaping

Observatory panorama

The gardeners are now working on the landscaping of the observatory compound which may indicate that the buildings will soon be open to the public. The photograph which was taken from the North Bridge shows that scaffolding has now been set up around the prison governor’s house, presumably to repoint and clean the stonework.

Schiedam City Hall

In July 1820 the ‘Dirk Van Heering’ of Schiedam in the Netherlands docked at the port of Leith. The captain Thomas Bowling took his chronometer up to the transit house on the Calton Hill. He was not admitted to the small building. The keeper did not know the rate of the clock or the difference between the mean and apparent time. The clock was also five minutes fast. Captain Bowling took his chronometer to the Albyn Club in Princes Street which had a transit instrument and a nautical almanac. image credit Wikimedia Commons

David Rintoul

A tree dedicated to the memory of David Rintoul a member of the One o’ Clock Gun Asscn will be planted on Bruntsfield Links on Friday 25th May at 6.00 pm. In addition to being the chairman of the Tollcoss Community Council and running ‘The Tollcross Times’, David was a keen golfer. Guests are invited to return to the Golf Tavern following the ceremony.
image credit Liz Summerfield.

Waverley Station

From the storehouse standing on the building site, the line was carried to the steep rocky spur beneath the Calton Jail. Pulling the rope up the spur, the riggers suspended the cable across Waterloo Place before carrying it to the foot of the Nelson Monument where it was hauled up to a window just below the second gallery. image credit ‘Old and New Edinburgh’ by James Grant.

Above Central Edinburgh

From the station roof the riggers hoisted the rope up on to the roof of the New Buildings located at the corner of the North Bridge and Princes Street where the Balmoral Hotel now stands. The rope was then carried across the North Bridge to one of the storehouses standing on the vacant site where the General Post Office was scheduled to be built. Although Mr Newall suggested that the wire be permanently fixed to the roof of the New Buildings to relieve the weight of cable, his advice was not acted upon.

Waverley Bridge

From the top of the Mound the riggers carried the cable along the south side of East Princes Street Gardens to the Waverley arriving at the station at nine o‘clock in the morning. The rope was then hoisted on to the roof of the station. Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags can be seen in the background. image credit Thomas Begbie

Princes St Gardens

The riggers carried the rope through West Princes Street Gardens to the top of the Mound. When the riggers reached the top of the Mound the cable began to unwind from the drum which had been set up in the watchtower. The cable which weighed 4 cwt. consisted of seven wires manufactured from the finest steel encased in gutta percha half an inch in circumference.
Poles were set up support the cable along the route. image credit ‘Old and New Edinburgh’ by James Grant.

Mons Meg

Early in the morning about 4am on 22nd April 1861 the work to rig the cable connecting the electric clock designed to fire the time gun and the Nelson Monument began. The rigging was supervised by Robert Stirling Newall the manufacturer of the cable. The drum holding the cable was set up on a wooden frame inside the watch tower standing between the Argyle Battery and the Mons Meg Battery. Using a windlass and gearing a rope attached to the end of the cable was lowered by the riggers down to West Princes Street Gardens. Professor Piazzi Smyth and Frederick James Ritchie were at the fortress to observe the operation. Image credit ‘Old and New Edinburgh’ by James Grant.