The Observatory Science Centre is a Grade II* listed property. Formerly The Royal Greenwich Observatory (RGO); it occupied the site at Herstmonceux from 1956 to 1990 following relocation of the observatory from Greenwich in London. The RGO was an internationally renowned observatory with approximately 200 employees at the peak of operations. Important observations were made at the RGO in Herstmonceux making it a recognised site of national and international historic significance in both astronomy and scientific discovery.
The observatory was designed by the acclaimed New Zealand born architect Brian O'Rorke. With its unique arrangement of domes around a central bastion, the Equatorial Group was one of the most important government commissioned building projects of its period.
We want to preserve this unique site so we can continue to offer 'Spectacular Science' and astronomy to you all but it is going to cost a great deal of money to repair just a small part of the buildings.
To preserve part of Dome B (seen in the photograph), making it safe for visitors to continue appreciating this unique site, repairs are essential. This is the original entrance at the front of the main buildings.
Prolonged, unobserved water ingress has resulted in extensive corrosion to the metal framework which has in turn caused one of the window panels to crack. The area is being protected by barriers, keeping visitors safe and Acrow props have been put in place to make sure the lintel is secured. It is anticipated that the damage to the window will become even worse as we progress into the autumn and winter months, emphasising the urgency for the repairs.
The base of the domes are faced with wood-burnt West Sussex brick. The balconies and window surrounds finished in Portland stone; the terrace paved in Yorkstone with Portland stone steps and edgings. The external walls are clad in knapped flint - a traditional Sussex finish. The buildings were finished to the highest standards and at considerable cost. They are now in great need of repair!
It is going to cost in excess of £60,000 to repair the former main entrance. While we have been awarded £47,000 from the Wolfson Foundation (see annoucement below), we now have to raise as much of the excess £10,000+ as possible.
Are you able to donate? Any amount will be gratefully received with our enormous thanks. You can donate here or by clicking on the donate button at the top of this page. Alternatively if you are visiting The Centre you can drop a donation into one of our donation boxes.
Thank you SO much for your support!
We are very pleased to announce that we have received £47,000 from the Wolfson Foundation towards restoration of the Grade II* listed property.
The application was considered by an expert panel for Heritage, Humanities & the Arts under the programme for Historic Buildings & Landscapes and the announcement was made on 12 January 2022.
The funding will contribute significantly towards restoring and preserving the features of the original main entrance. This will ensure the building is maintained to a suitably high standard and remain a safe place for visitors to attend.
As a Grade II* listed property it is essential to employ experts experienced in working with historic sites and conservation who can source expert advice and materials. This will ensure that the unique character of the building will be preserved for the future.
We are very grateful to the Wolfson Foundation for their support.
We are also extremely grateful to The Chalk Cliff Trust for their very generous donation of £5,000 towards the cost of the repairs. The Chalk Cliff Trust is a foundation set up to provide grants and donations to charities, action groups and benevolent organisations in East Sussex.
This photograph of a rainbow over Dome B, taken by our CEO Steve Pizzey, was a fantastic omen!
This won't take long...
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The Observatory Science Centre is part of Science Projects Ltd, a company limited by guarantee registered in England No: 02186073 and a registered charity No: 298542. The registered office is 3 – 15 Stirling Road, Acton, London. W3 8DJ. UK.