An important addition to West Terrace was the Adelaide Observatory built for the multi-faceted Sir Charles Todd (1826–1910). The pioneer of a network of telegraph lines to connect the colony to the world, Todd was South Australia’s superintendent of telegraphs, government astronomer, postmaster-general and meteorologist.
The Adelaide Observatory complex, including the Todd family residence and weather recording equipment, was located in the West Parklands between the ends of Currie Street and Waymouth Street. The earliest veranda covered section of the main building was completed in May 1860. A tower, with tripartite blind windows and transit room was begun in 1873. The whole complex, including a domed equatorial room, was completed by 1876.
The Adelaide Observatory boasted refracting and transit telescopes, a time service and a seismograph. The equipment enabled Todd to undertake geodetic surveys and observations of comets, planetary satellites and other astronomical phenomena. Experimental wireless telegraphy equipment transmitted between Adelaide and Henley Beach in 1899. The Observatory became the hub for meteorological observation stations that reported daily using the telegraph system. Regular forecasts and maps were published from the data collected.
The Observatory was joined by the Commonwealth Weather Bureau building in 1941. The complex was demolished over some years to 1952 to make way for the Adelaide Boys High School. Much later the weather bureau functions were transferred to a site at Kent Town, an inner suburb of Adelaide.
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Thanks for that contribution Shane.
I am a researcher of early SA photography. Did you know that AR was a member of a South Australian artillery militia unit - apx 1870?
Best, Shane Le Plastrier
I'm afraid the above is the most we have on the Observatory and its staff at present. If you are interested in doing some further research the sources for the article can be found under the 'learn more' button. If you haven't already you might also try State Records: https://www.archives.sa.gov.au/content/family-history who are likely to have more on the Observatory.
Do you have any information on Alexander Ringwood, a relative of mine.Perhaps the dates he was working at the Observatory or any group photos from the early days in which he may be an unknown person.
I have the following info on him is quite scant however I do have a photo of him.
1. Paper published: "Means by which the height of clouds can be obtained by one observer" by Alexander Ringwood.1877
2. Friday 14 February 1890, page 11
Quiz regrets to have heard of the death in Melbourne of Mr. Alec. Ringwood. Mr. Ringwood was for many years in the Adelaide Observatory,
3.Alexander Ringwood was employed as a draftsman surveyor under Goyder in the northern territory expedition 1868 for the overland telegraph line. They travelled per the Moonta to Darwin.
4.Trove: 1885- A correspondent writes:—"While in Melbourne I met Mr. Alexander Ringwood, who has just returned from New Zealand, where he has been engaged collecting data for his book on the meteorology of Australasia, the manuscript of which I was fortunate enough to have a glimpse at. It contains all the meteorological information obtainable throughout the length and breadth of Australasia, from Perth to Fiji, and from Batavia to the south end of New Zealand, and gives the mean pressure, temperature, and rainfall for each month at all the principal stations from the commencement of their records. Mr. Ringwood was for many years chief assistant at the Adelaide Observatory under Mr. Todd, and he is no doubt well fitted to compile an Australian meteorological work."
5. Death 1890
RINGWOOD- On the 4th February, at his residence, South Yarra, Melbourne, Alexander, fourth son of the late Rev. Henry Taylor Ringwood, of Wilson's Hospital, Westmeath, Ireland.
Afraid not Kelly, I hope someone else does!
In reply to my own earlier question; Kingston was the architect of the observatory residence so I assume that they had some kind of relationship. Another interesting link I found was that James Glaisher the inventor of the Glaisher stand (17 years Charles Todd's senior) worked at Royal Greenwich Observatory at the same time as Todd - an overlap of 6 years. Not conclusive of any relationship but interesting that these scientists mixed in the same circles.
At the risk of being a serial pest, does anyone know what happened to the wonderful telescope that graced the observatory (I think they had more than one). I don't imagine that it would be up to date so to speak but it seemed like a wonderful piece of engineering and optics.
Hi Kelly, I'm afraid that's something I haven't been able to find any info on. It will require more extensive trawling through the archives. Best of luck with your research.
My son is doing a research project for high school on the historical records of GS Kingston who lived at lot 322 Grote Street. He is using a pamphlet from the State Library called; "Register of the rainfall kept in Grote-Street". On this document the co-ordinates are referred to as; 34° 55'34" S 138° 34' 54.75" E. This appears to be the location of the new BOM site at the rear of the Adelaide High School. I know that Kingston was a member of the Statistical Society but I am unsure wether he had any dealings or association with Charles Todd and the Observatory. Can you shed any light on this prospect?