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The Falmouth Observatory


The RCPS was approached by the Royal Society to establish a first-order observatory at Falmouth. The society was delighted to be accorded this honour and in late January 1867 a meteorological committee was set up to oversee the establishment of the observatory. After considering a number of existing sites, Balfour Stewart from the Kew Observatory eventually gave his approval to a parcel of land on Bowling Green Hill, high above the harbour. It was decided that a new building should be built, a tower that would be ‘sufficiently high above the houses to be exposed to the winds without interruption’, so that the anemometer should be kept free from eddies.69 Given its prominent position above the harbour it was also proposed that a time-ball be mounted on the tower, for the benefit of townsfolk and sailors, although this appears never to have been erected. A range of other stipulations were laid down concerning the size and height of rooms, the number and aspects of windows, the positioning of instruments and so on. The building of the tower was commenced on 2 September 1867 and completed by the beginning of December of that year. Mr Lovell Squire’s appointment as the first observer was approved and the government began to provide the society with an annual grant of £250 to cover its operation.70 In July 1869, with an increase in the grant, Mr Kitto was appointed assistant observer to Squire. An assistant secretary was also appointed, partly paid for out of RCPS funds. Source: Nationalizing provincial weather: meteorology in nineteenth century Cornwall

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