Clifton Camera Obscura and Observatory


Just meters away from Clifton Suspension Bridge, the Observatory and Camera Obscura is one of Bristol’s most overlooked architectural icons and certainly worth a visit if you’re in the area!

Set 92 meters above the Clifton Down gorge, the Observatory was designed and built in the 18th century to be used as a mill for the production of snuff tobacco. However, it met its end as a mill during a storm in October 1777 when the sails were left up causing a fire to break out inside.

Credits: thewretched

The mill remained empty for over half a century after the fire until it was rented to local artist “William West”:, who extended the windmill to create a new observatory, building a large dome to house a rotating telescope. He filled the observatory with a collection of maps, globes and optical instruments and even paid for a tunnel to be constructed, digging from the top of the cliff to the gorge below!

Credits: thewretched

The camera obscura itself projects a panoramic view of the surrounding area onto a white surface inside a darkened room. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a photo of this! A box on top of the building contains a convex lens and sloping mirror. The light is then reflected vertically downward onto the table, giving an image of the surroundings. Perfect insight to the world of analogue photography!

written by thewretched on 2011-07-12 #places #location #select-type-of-location #art-and-culture #clifton-camera-obscura-bristol-suspension-bridge-observatory

One Comment

  1. cecilialisbon
    cecilialisbon ·

    I have just been moving to Bristol, and this is very helpfull since I am currently exploring the city!
    beautiful pictures as well :)

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