Saturday 20 March 2021

Update on A Cooke in Manchester


Update on A Cooke in Manchester

I orginally posted this on September 11th 2020, but I now believe that I might have found out what happened to this 6 inch Cooke

I have come across details of a Cooke telescope which was purchased by Benjamin Dennison Naylor of Manchester in 1863 it was a 6 inch Cooke, I then came across a note from a Miss Naylor of Altrincham in 1869, following the death of Benjamin Naylor. I am not sure what relation she was to Benjamin but she was advertising a very fine equatorial by Cooke, almost new, 6 inch aperture with clockwork movement, eyepieces and finder.

Benjamin Naylor died at his residence at the Knoll near Altrincham on December 27th 1868, he was the last lineal male descendant of four of the clergy ejected from their livings by the act of Uniformity in 1662. He was a governor of Chetham’s Hospital and Library.

I do not know who brought this telescope following the death of Benjamin Naylor, maybe someone in the Manchester area is familiar with this astronomer and might know the answer.

I came across this reference concerning Mr James Townsend living in New Zealand and his 1864 Thomas Cooke and Sons 6 inch telescope. There is no reference to him buying the telescope from new so it can only be second hand, hence the possible connection with the Naylor telecope.

I have now discovered more about this telescope I believe it might have been purchased by a Mr James Townsend who later moved to New Zealand and took the 6 inch Cooke with him. It was used to observe the 1884 Transit of Venus at Christchurch not by Townsend but by the Lands and Survey Officer Walter Kitson (1835-1914).

The telescope was donated by Townsend in 1891 to the Canterbury College in Christchurch and in 1896 it was installed in the newly erected tower observatory on campus. It remained under the control of the University’s department of Physics and astronomy and was used for regular ‘public viewing nights’.

6 inch Townsend telecope at Christchurch

Sadly the observatory tower was damaged during the 2010 earthquake and collapsed during the 2011 earthquakes. Although the telescope was badly damaged, surprisingly the lens survived.

Observatory after earthquake

 It is planned to restore the telescope to its former glory. 

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