Grubb 8 inch Telescope

This 8 inch telescope was used at the Natal Observatory.  The telescope was bought by Harry Escombe in 1882 as a gift to the observatory. It was mainly used by Nevill until the observatory closed down in 1911. The last astronomer known to have used the telescope was Dr. Cousins who used it in the 1940’s. In the 1950’s the tube of the telescope and the Natal Observatory metal dome were sold as scrap metal and smelted down.

The optics of the telescope, specifically the 8 inch lens of the refractor was saved by the then secretary of the local astronomy society. He had a wooden box made to protect the lens and stored it “safely” in a cupboard in his garage. He went away with friends for the weekend and his wife used the opportunity to do a bit of spring cleaning. The lens was traced to an auctioneer in Zambia where the trail ends. The current location is unknown. [Personal communication with Andrew Gray; CL]

Kullberg Clock

The clock, no. 5366, was built by Victor Kullberg of London. It was installed at the Natal Observatory in 1884. The clock was electronically connected to the post office as well as the timeball where it served as the timekeeper for the Natal Colony (today Kwazulu-Natal) and later the Union of South Africa (today the Republic of South Africa). The Observatory closed down in 1911 and the clock was moved to the Union Observatory in Johannesburg. There it was displayed in the library until the observatory closed down. The last professional observer of the Union Observatory (then called the Republic Observatory), Dr. Bruwer, took the clock.  It passed on to his family who moved to Paarl, Western Cape Province. Current location unknown. [Personal communication with Andrew Gray; CL]

Below is a photo of the clock. No detail can be made out on the photo but the following detail is available. On the face of the clock are two insignia:

  • Diploma of Honour – Vienna, 1875
  • Diploma of Honour – Paris, 1875

The clock has 3 dials: Hours (12 hours); Minutes; Seconds.