back to article UK's iconic Jodrell Bank Observatory nominated as World Heritage Site

Jodrell Bank Observatory has been nominated as the UK's entry for World Heritage status. If awarded, Jodrell Bank will join the UK's 31 existing World Heritage Sites, which include Kew Gardens, Giant's Causeway, and the Lake District, which was added to the list last year. Reg man goes time travelling at iconic observatory …

  1. Paul Herber

    Not a single mention of SPAAAAAAACE.

  2. Ledswinger Silver badge

    Well, this isn't about space, or science, it is about ossifying the facility. So in a few hundred years, your great, great, great....grandkids can wonder why the fuck somebody wanted to expensively preserve a big chunk of meccano, and a few manky buildings. And they'd be right to wonder when the REAL HERITAGE of Jodrell Bank is science and learning, neither of which will be furthered or celebrated by bimbling around long-dead buildings, listening to short, dull audio explanations.

    Britain has a national obsession with "preserving stuff for the nation", but I'm wholly unconvinced of the need to keep on adding to the tally. Or if we do need to, then lets drop and equivalent size place off the bottom of the list, rather than growing it forever. There's some bloody dull old buildings in the care of the National Trust, I'm sure they could be "unpreserved" to the benefit of the world.

  3. Phil W Silver badge

    While you kind of have a point, it's a very pessimistic one. If properly equipped the visitor centre can be educational on the subject for all levels, whether it will continue to be is up for debate but there is a great deal of potential there.

    It is also a huge benefit and value to University education. Even in 50 years having a University with access to its own radio telescope of this size regardless of age will be advantageous for astrophysics students, and it will increasingly have value to history students too.

  4. Joe Werner

    Re: this is not about space or science...

    Hm. Well... yes, this is one of the things I immediately thought of: glorify past researches, cut funds for research at the same time. And tell universities what the research has to be about. There used to be independence in teaching and research, but that was long ago... (it seems).

    Still: no, I don't like some of the heritage buildings. Actually I really dislike them. However, just 60-70 years or so ago city centres in mainland Europe were destroyed (well, what had survived the war) because the buildings were not modern and place for the car friendly cities was needed. Today we mourn these losses. So: heritage protection is probably a good thing.

  5. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Britain has a national obsession with "preserving stuff for the nation"

    Well, well. I think Ledswinger has put his finger on the surveillance obsession.

    The government merely wants to preserve all the mindless chatter of the entire country and all the swapped 'genital passport photos' for the enrichment of future generations....

    How many decades 'til the entire country is one huge museum, crusting over with antiquated IT 'cause the government can't put new systems in place without blowing the project and antique goverment that's (roughly) 70% tradition and furry ceremony, 20% pomp and privilege and 10% ineptitude.

  6. LeeE Silver badge

    "Not a single mention of SPAAAAAAACE."

    It wasn't an article about SPAAAAAAACE - it was an article about the observatory.

    In addition to the research, Jodrell Bank also played an important political role during the Cold War by tracking and verifying the efforts of both the US and the USSR. Both the US and the USSR collaborated in this tracking because it was in both their interests that their achievements be independently verified, to each other and the rest of the world.

    I understand that Lovell wasn't too enamored with these 'tracking' jobs but realised that the liaison they required helped establish a conduit of scientific research between the East and West, with himself in the middle. Iirc, as a result of his collaboration with the USSR in the tracking of their early space efforts, and acting as a trusted but independent middle-man, Lovell was invited to the USSR to tour many of their scientific research facilities and was actually a bit surprised at the very high level of access he was given, including many research facilities that would never been seen by anyone else from the West.

  7. TRT Silver badge

    F*** all of that...

    It's where the greatest Doctor met his end. And that fact alone makes it worthy of being set in the largest ever Plasticraft known to mankind.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "your great, great, great....grandkids can wonder why the fuck somebody wanted to..."

    Dude, who piddled in your Post Toasties™?

  9. Adam Jarvis

    Agree. You don't pay homage to a place of cutting edge technology by preserving it, you pay homage by keeping it cutting edge and investing in science.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The home of the only gig I've ever been to where the crowd enthusiastically chanted "Science! Science! Science!" to the live sound of a far-off pulsar, egged on by none other than the wonderful Tim O'Brien.

    Wonderful place, great visitors centre, surprisingly good music venue.

  11. Timbo

    "surprisingly good music venue."

    The music was great but there were other problems...

    When I went, all the vehicles in the car park were forced to use ONE exit onto the main road - which meant it took us over an hour to leave the car park.

    Oh and by the way, there is no railway station nearby and apart from any specially arranged buses, no other public transport goes past after the gig had finished...so, to go, you really had to go by car or get a nice expensive taxi from Alderley Edge (a larger town which has a taxi rank) or Goostrey (a small village which is nearer to JB, but otherwise, it is miles from anywhere and lacking in local taxi facilities). You could also travel via Macclesfield, but you'd have the same issue with getting a bus or a taxi - especially AFTER the event has finished...with thousands of people leaving the site at the same time, how would you ensure that the taxi you booked to meet you could actually find you in the dark?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    2.5 miles to Goostrey station

    a pleasant length for a walk or quicker by bike

  13. AbelSoul
    Pint

    Look again at that dot...

    It has hosted the Bluedot festival for the last two years and is doing so again this year. This event combines music and science and is tailor-made for a tune-loving-nerd such as myself. Professor David Nutt's presentation in the inaugural year was a personal highlight. I've yet to miss it.

    Staying on site for the weekend also solves your transport issues.

  14. D@v3

    Re: Look again at that dot...

    I am going myself this year, first time for this particular festival, only my second visit to the site. Thoroughly looking forward to it.

  15. AbelSoul
    Pint

    Re: Look again at that dot...

    Well, if the last two years are anything to go by, you won't be disappointed.

  16. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Coat

    Things....

    Can only get better!

    Can only get better....

    (Or more accurately I want to party up the world ...)

    Mines the fluorescent one with the glow stick in the pocket

  17. Korev Silver badge
    Coat

    Re: Things....

    I thought that was just a bad D'ream

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Things....

    You are Prof. Brian Cox and I claim my £20.

  19. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Doesn't that mean the crap dish can't be replaced by new gear?

    Preservation of steam locomotives and like things is fun and rewarding, but I would rather have top gear getting new data on the grave of the venerable dish instead of mouldy reliquia.

  20. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Re: Doesn't that mean the crap dish can't be replaced by new gear?

    but I would rather have top gear getting new data on the grave of the venerable dish

    So that they wioll detectan on-when the Vogons arrive the previous time around?

  21. Blitheringeejit
    Boffin

    Re: Doesn't that mean the crap dish can't be replaced by new gear?

    They resurfaced the dish in 2002, and I'm sure the electronics have been somewhat upgraded since Lovell's day - it's a modern, working instrument, not a museum piece.

    Of course it may become a museum piece if it is declared a World Heritage Site - but I wouldn't have thought the scientists who use it would stand for that.

  22. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Re: Doesn't that mean the crap dish can't be replaced by new gear?

    but I would rather have top gear getting new data

    It is more cost effective to just buy/rent a piece of land in the deepest darkest Eastern Europe, Australia, Canada or South America.

    The issue with any astronomical equipment (both radio and optical) in UK or other densely inhabited parts of Western Europe is that the background noise pollution is off the scale.

    It has been admitted for a while regarding optical. That is why most UK optical astronomers are camping on La Palma, Rozhen and a few other sites elsewhere in Europe when working with the northern hemisphere (they go to Atacama for a view of the Southern one). It is about time we admit defeat regarding radio-astronomy too.

    Jodrell is not the only place on its way to be mothballed or dismantled. As recent as 10 years ago Cambridge university immediately assumed the Fire-breathing dragon posture when anyone mentioned the possibility of the restoration of the Cambridge-Oxford rail line, because the astronomy department had a long base interferometry antenna wondering along a chunk of it. No more (and nobody has seen that antenna for a few years now).

  23. bazza Silver badge

    Re: Doesn't that mean the crap dish can't be replaced by new gear?

    I drive past the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory every day of the week, and it looks to be in pretty busy use. And of the three routes under consideration for the Bedford / Cambridge stretch of the re-opened Varsity line, only one of them involves loosely following the old route and avoids the MRAO. Jodrell is in active use (or was less than 18 months ago when I was last there). And just in case you're in any doubt about the continued usefulness of places like Jodrell and Mullard, take a look at E-Merlin.

  24. rh587

    Re: Doesn't that mean the crap dish can't be replaced by new gear?

    What's crap about it? It's the third largest steerable dish in the world, was resurfaced in 2008 and both the instrumentation and steering hardware are periodically renovated and kept up to date for new projects and observations.

    It's also the heart of e-Merlin and significantly improves the resolution of EVN when tied in, being one of the highest latitude dishes in the network.

    If anything, UNESCO status would probably help them enforce their radio-quiet area in that corner of Cheshire and smooth the planning process/promote development of new instruments.

  25. rh587

    Re: Doesn't that mean the crap dish can't be replaced by new gear?

    It has been admitted for a while regarding optical. That is why most UK optical astronomers are camping on La Palma, Rozhen and a few other sites elsewhere in Europe

    La Palma is less to do with noise pollution and more to do with altitude. Ben Nevis stands 1344metres tall, Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma is ~2400m, so more than a kilometre higher.

    This places it significantly above the weather giving you more observing nights per year than you could manage in rainy Blighty (i.e. much better ROI on your telescope costs, albeit with some increased costs for location), as well as being above the majority of atmospheric water vapour (again, see damp, humid, rainy Blighty) which causes distortion.

    We have plenty of good, dark-sky locations in the UK. They're just regularly cloudy. This also affects certain radio observations where water-vapour attenuation is significant at lower altitudes, but by no means all observations. There are plenty of bits of spectrum which are entirely unaffected.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This place has ****ing had its day

    When I read comments like this about such iconic and relevant tech in the uk, it just reinforces my belief that the Register and its commentards as I believe they are called, are just a bunch of dicks!

    I leave this here so you can maybe 'read up'...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_Kilometre_Array

  27. Long John Brass Silver badge

    Re: This place has ****ing had its day

    the Register and its commentards as I believe they are called, are just a bunch of dicks

    Yes! ... yes we are; Welcome to the club by the way ;)

  28. richardcox13
    Stop

    Re: This place has ****ing had its day

    From which I quote:

    > The headquarters of the SKA will be located at Manchester's Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire, England.

    So Jodrell Bank is rather key to the SKA.

  29. ukgnome Silver badge

    Re: This place has ****ing had its day

    the Register and its commentards as I believe they are called, are just a bunch of dicks

    Ha loser - My name isn't Richard!

  30. David Nash Silver badge

    Re: This place has ****ing had its day

    "So Jodrell Bank is rather key to the SKA"

    I *think* that was AC's point although it's hard to tell.

  31. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    It wouldn't be the first...

    Bit of observation kit to become a world heritage site. Though I think it's the most recent one.

    (jantar mantar like jodrell bank being well worth a trip...but abit further to get to)

  32. CliveS
    Thumb Up

    "It has hosted several concerts and TV recordings, and has appeared in popular works such as Doctor Who and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."

    Was also the inspiration for the radio telescope at Bouldershaw Fell in A for Andromeda, both the novel and the 1961 TV serial. The latter which featured the fragrant Julie Christie in her first notable role.

  33. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    @CliveS - I read that book in the sixties, when I was a tyke in Australia.

    It's still one of my favourites, and I just recently found out about the TV serial, which I shall proceed to obtain. Julie Christie only makes it better :-)

  34. phuzz Silver badge

    "the fragrant Julie Christie"

    Did you have smell-o-vision then?

  35. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    To infinity and beyond!

    Jodrell Bank is awesome.

    Well worth a day out in the countryside.

  36. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Jodrell Bank has to be THE coolest name for a radio telescope observatory.

    Next coolest: Goonhilly Downs. And not just because it has “Goon” in it.

    “Mount Palomar” or “Arecibo” just can’t compete in cool factors.

  37. tony2heads

    Re: Bah!

    If it had been a mile off it could have been Badgerbank (which I think much better)

  38. Korev Silver badge
    Boffin

    Re: Bah!

    In case anyone missed the wonderful Geek's guide to Goonhilly

  39. Lotaresco Silver badge

    Re: Bah!

    "Next coolest: Goonhilly Downs. And not just because it has “Goon” in it."

    No the next coolest has to be Chilbolton because it has "Chil" in its name.

    BTW, it's just Goonhilly. Goonhilly Downs is the nearby SSSI. Also it's not a radio telescope.

  40. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

    Re: Bah!

    I have been, both in ancient times and recently, to the site of the US Telstar ground station, in Andover, Maine.

    My first visit was in the sixties, when AT&T was actively using it to talk to Telstar. I observed it recently, from the top of a mountain on a hike. Sadly, the large horn antenna in its radome is no longer there, and the site is just barely used as a satellite ground station, more to keep control of the real estate, I think, than anything else.

    The high school in the nearby town of Bethel is named Telstar High. I wonder if the students realise the origin of the name.

    Happily, though, the "other end" appears to have been preserved: http://ethw.org/First-Hand:Telstar..._and_some_personal_recollections

  41. Stevie Silver badge

    Re: Telstar High

    I wonder if the School Song is played on Stylophones?

  42. Stevie Silver badge

    Re: Bah!

    No the next coolest has to be Chilbolton because it has "Chil" in its name.

    Tch! So does every third rap recording in the known universe.

    Thumbs-down, frowny-face, that-thing-where-you-hold-your-finger-and-thumb-in-an-L-shape-against-your-forehead.

    It was The Observatory at Goonhilly Downs in the guide book when I found it before you were born. Like everything, young people feel the need to change the names of stuff we already know about to make them seem new ideas.

    My lawn. Either mow it for me or get off it.

  43. Lotaresco Silver badge

    Re: Bah!

    "It was The Observatory at Goonhilly Downs in the guide book when I found it before you were born. "

    No it wasn't. For two reasons, one is that it was built as "Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station" not an observatory. It's never been used as an observatory but may in future become an observatory if enough money can be raised for preservation/conversion. The other is that I'm older than the space race, let alone Goonhilly.

    Thanks for making the international sign that shows your intellectual status.

  44. ukgnome Silver badge

    World Heritage Site?

    How disappointing - Sure this should be a galaxy heritage site.

  45. Twinkle

    I wonder if anything like this could happen today? It was a personal mission by Bernard Lovell just after WW2. It was seen less disparargingly affer it tracked early Russian satellites and produced pictures from an early Russian moon lander.

  46. Davenport
    Thumb Up

    Space Has No Frontier

    The biography of Bernard Lovell the amazing creator of Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope, soon to be awarded World Heritage status, all being Well. Get the whole story in Space Has No Frontier

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