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Bristol Observatory

I have seen the Bristol Observatory from the distance on numerous occasions when I have gone over the Clifton Suspension Bridge and although I live and work in Bristol I have never visited this Bristol attraction so as it was a sunny day I parked up and followed the pathway which is near to the suspension bridge and walked up to the observaory, the observatory is in the process of being refurbished and the young man on the desk told me that the intention was to open up a restaurant to the side of the building so I shall follow this with interest. I only had a short time to spare so I paid the entrance fee for myself and my grandson to view the Observarory the cost was just £3.00 for both of us, after going up the spiral stairs to the top of the building we did as we were advised and shut the doors of the observatory and waited a couple of minutes for our eyes to become acclimitized and then taking hold of the handle of the camera obscura which allows you to take in a marvelous 360 degree view of the area.
The Clifton Observatory was originally a snuff mill, built by James Waters but partially destroyed during a gale in 1777. He installed the camera obscura, which is still in use today. The camera obscura projects a panoramic view of the surrounding area onto a white surface inside the darkened room. A box on top of the building contains a convex lens and sloping mirror. Light is reflected vertically downward onto the table, giving a true (not mirror) image.I thoroughly enjoyed this uniqe experience and as soon as I can find another 5 minutes will go back to view the other attraction St Vincent’s Cave, sometimes known as the Giant’s or Ghyston’s Cave.
A trip to the observatory offers a great afternoon out as you will pass a childrens wooden playground area and there are several seats dotted around where you can enjoy a picnic and enjoy the fabulous views of the Suspension Bridge and Hotwells.
Carol Heal
July 2009

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