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.

By Jude Elton, History Trust of South Australia

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Image: large funnel like building with two story building in background

Image courtesy of the State Library of South Australia SLSA: B43179, Public Domain

Image : Old stone building with tower and dirt driveway.

History SA. South Australian Government Photographic Collection. GN05227.

Image : Well dressed man looking through a telescope.

History SA. South Australian Government Photographic Collection, GN05401.

Image : Assorted outbuildings

History Trust of South Australia. South Australian Government Photographic Collection, GN05402.

Image : Stone two story building with garden and sweeping driveway.

History SA. South Australian Government Photographic Collection, GN05409.

Image : Grounds of Adelaide Observatory

History SA. South Australian Government Photographic Collection. GN05411.

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