Telescope Arrives in Knighton

Well, the telescope is in Wales and secure. Here’s how it happened.

Wed 17 Jun

Rob Bridgland and I travelled to Cambridge, and there we met up with David Macleod, Tom Chandler, David Chapman and Mike Vening. Stirling work was done throughout the day, making final preparations for the lift. A special pallet for the base assembly was constructed and a section of the dome floor removed by Mike and David, while Rob and Dave Macleod pondered the technicalities of removing the fork assembly from the base. Eventually it was decided that this was not practical, so our plan was revised to deal with the two assemblies attached. By end-of-play everything was ready to go.

Thu 18 Jun

Rob and I did some final “tweaking” and touched base with Paul Aslin, the administrator of the Institute of Astronomy. After that we had a day at the Duxford Air Museum – an awesome place!

Fri 19 Jun

The big day! Rob and I were on-site at 0730, soon to be met by Mellie and Dave who brought a mass of photographic equipment – put the BBC to shame! By 0830 we had a 42-ton crane and its support vehicle setting up, and shortly thereafter the transport lorry arrived. At the same time the BBC and local media began to collect, along with members of staff from the Institute of Astronomy.

Setting up the crane proved to be a major operation, laying massive steel plates on the ground for the jacks. However, this was soon achieved, and Rob, with the slinger, hooked up the telescope tube. This was removed with little fuss, as we had already disconnected it from the forks.

Then came the tricky bit – lifting the 5 ton base assembly. Again, it had already been unbolted from the baseplate, and all electrical and other connections had been removed. The initial lift was accomplished fairly easily, but getting it out through the slit in the dome required some jiggling as the base is wider than the slit! However, there was quite a cheer when it cleared the dome. The whole thing was witnessed by Martin Rees (Lord Rees of Ludlow) the Astronomer Royal, whose home town is Bedstone. He supports the project wholeheartedly.

Once the major components were safely secured to the 10-ton flatbed truck it was simply a case of tidying everything up and driving back to Knighton.

At this end the telescope was unloaded from the truck, using its own crane, and gently lowered onto pallets on the ground. A huge tarpaulin now covers the components, and they await an interim move, probably in September, before eventually coming up the hill.

There are masses of photos of the whole process, and Mellie has some excellent video. Ask and it shall be given unto you!

Anyway, Phase 3, the trickiest, of the 13 phase operation is now complete, so now we knuckle down to restore the hardware, and raise the funding for its final resting place.

Now for the building of the dome!

Posted in DRAX News

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