One of the oldest photographs ever taken of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich has been found in New Zealand’s Public Library Archives where it’s been kept for over five decades and is described simply as a “building with scaffolding.”
Building with scaffolding. Craddock, Gerald Rainsford, 1910-1990 :Photographs relating to the Glaisher family. Ref: PA1-o-191-43. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22834107
The remarkable 160 year old image is attributed to James Glaisher, the famed balloonist and former Superintendent of Meteorology at the Observatory who lived on Dartmouth Hill and who enjoyed two spells as Royal Photographic Society president.
His photo, taken in 1857 less than 20 years after the birth of photography, captures the construction of the Great Equatorial Building, also known as the South East Dome, which housed the Merz 12.8-inch Visual Refractor. About 35 years later the Merz was replaced in the tower by the famous 28-inch telescope.
Charles Shepherd’s iconic 24 hour clock which was installed in 1852 can also be seen in the picture. But to an unfamiliar eye on the other side of the globe, the photo’s recognisable features and significance appears to have been missed and for over 50 years it’s been catalogued with no detailed description. [Read more…]