Observatory Timeline

late 1870s Norman Lockyer began to assemble astronomical instruments in South Kensington …
1881 … which were then set up in temporary structures near the Post Office in Exhibition Road. Lockyer was appointed Lecturer in Astronomy at the Normal School of Science (NSS) just across the road.
1885 Lockyer became Professor of Astronomical Physics at NSS and Director of the Solar Physics Observatory (SPO).
1901 Sir Norman Lockyer (aged 65) retired from NSS.
1909 Lockyer started building a house later called Brownlands in Sidmouth.
1912 After forced closure of its Kensington site the SPO moved to Cambridge. Lockyer moved to Sidmouth. The Kensington and McClean telescopes were installed in new domes at the Hill Observatory.
1920 Death of Sir Norman Lockyer. His son, Dr.James Lockyer, took over as Director of what was to become the Norman Lockyer Observatory.
1935 Construction of Mond dome to house astrographic camera.
1936 Death of James Lockyer. Donald Edwards took over running of NLO.
1948 Exeter University took over responsibility for the NLO.
1962 Donald Barber, the last astronomer at NLO, retired.
1974 The newly-formed Sidmouth & District Astronomy Society (SIDDAS) was allowed occasional use of the buildings and instruments.
1978 Exeter University ceased geophysics work on the site.
1984 NLO site sold. Acquired by East Devon District Council.
1985 Sidmouth Amateur Radio Society (SARS) started to make use of the site.
1987 Sale of some NLO effects.
1989 The NLO was re-opened for EDDC by Patrick Moore.
1989 The McClean telescope was restored. The Mond dome re-opened as a small planetarium. A meeting room and a radio room were built onto the Mond dome. SIDDAS and SARS used the buildings under licence.
1993 The Lockyer and Browning telescopes were recovered and restored.
1995 The Norman Lockyer Society was formed from the amalgamation of SIDDAS and the SARS. The Observatory (NLO) was leased by East Devon District Council (EDDC) to the new Norman Lockyer Observatory Society (NLOS).
1996 An exhibition area, 60-seat planetarium and second radio room were built.
1997 Lockyer telescope installed in the Mond dome, replacing the planetarium projector.
1999 Victoria dome built and equipped with 12-inch Newtonian telescope.
2004 The SPO/NLO collection of historic photographic plates were recovered from the The Science Museum London.
2005 Spitz projector from Royal Observatory Greenwich was installed in the planetarium, replacing the original small instrument.
2006 100-seat Donald Barber Lecture Theatre built.
2007 NLO library returned to NLO from Exeter University.
2009 McClean dome renovated and telescope brought back into use
2010 Lockyer telescope renovated.
2011 New Dome for 20 inch telescope is begun and Victoria dome renovated and new telescope donated for it.
2012 Connaght Dome and Lockyer Technology Centre opened by Dr Brian May.