Four Marks Observatory

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G Burt
Posts: 158
Joined: Sat May 02, 2009 2:37 pm

Four Marks Observatory

Post by G Burt »

Dear All,

In April, I moved to Alton in Hampshire and am now researching the history of the former short-lived observatory located in the nearby village of Four Marks. Peter Grego kindly inserted a panel about this on p.34 of the July/August PA.

Described at the time as 'the finest private observatory in the country', the observatory's six instruments were used by members of the BAA during the years of World War 1, mainly for observations of Jupiter and Neptune. Sadly, the observatory and contents were auctioned off in 1920 and only the whereabouts of the 10" Cooke, now in Dundee, is known.

I've started casting around for info. at the RAS, BAA and SHA but is there anyone out there in the SPA universe who has come across anything about the observatory or the fate of its telescopes? Does your local observatory have one of the Four Marks instruments like the Dundee Cooke?

Best Wishes,

Geoff :)
Chris Heal
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2020 1:47 pm

Re: Four Marks Observatory

Post by Chris Heal »

Hello Geoff
I have been searching for information on the Four Marks Observatory for some time without much success. I am an author writing a history of Four Marks and would be grateful for any information that you can share.
In the 1939 Register, the Observatory is listed in Blackberry Lane occupied by John G A Allen, born 6 Sep 1892, a retired electrical engineer. Under 'Instructions' is written 'Observer Corps, RAF, Group 3'. You may know that there were a lot of flights over the area during the war. There was a searchlight battery nearby. The local scrap yard made a fortune from unexploded bombs and aircraft wreckage.
Also in the home was Mary Allen, born 25 Aug 1892, 'unpaid domestic duties'; Janet Wellerman, 19 Sep 1873, 'unpaid domestic duties'; and William Wellerman, 16 Jan 1874, retired commercial traveller.
There is a picture of the observatory in Mills, Betty, Four Marks its Life and Origins, 1995, which I could copy for you. 'There were two igloo-like domes. No one had ever been inside, but it was said that they had been sued by an astronomer. The author was told that they had been demolished at the start of the 1939/45 war because they were considered too much of a landmark for the enemy.'
Best wishes
Chris Heal
Posts: 419
Joined: Fri Dec 10, 2004 10:34 pm
Location: Surrey

Re: Four Marks Observatory

Post by JohnM »


You can have look for information on the observatory on The Astronomical Data system try the following link ... ode%20desc

You could also search for the people involved either in the 'full text' or in the Author fields.

These searches should find mentions in the BAA or RAS journals. I believe one of the telescopes nay now be at the Mills Observatory in Scotland.

As an aside there are old (Ordnance Survey) maps available on line that may show a plan of the site but it depends on a survey being done while the observatory existed.

John Murrell
Data Miner & Amateur Astronomer
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