Mills Observatory, Dundee
The Mills Observatory in Dundee Scotland in the first purpose-built astronomical observatory in the UK. Built in 1935, the observatory is classically styled in sandstone and has a distinctive 7.0m dome, which houses a Victorian refracting telescope, a small planetarium and display areas. The dome is one of two made from papier-mache to survive in the UK, the other being at the Godlee Observatory.
This unique Category B listed building was closed to the public as the shutter and its’ mechanism had become inoperable. The shutter itself had distorted and was corroded at the base. The winding mechanism had become distressed and required a complete overhaul.
Works comprised the erection of a cantilevered scaffolding to allow access to the exterior of the shutter and to allow maintenance of the entire dome covering by revolving the dome.
The existing shutter was removed for workshop repairs in Glasgow and replacement of the base papier-mache skirt. A temporary timber shutter was fabricated to provide weather protection whilst the original shutter was off-site. The entire winding mechanism was carefully surveyed and stripped out for restoration and re-installation. The main dome running gear was also restored during the shutter refurbishment including fabrication and installation of a new folding canvass/linen screen to the shutter opening.
A reversal of process saw the restored shutter returned to the site and put back to full working order which enabled the Observatory to re-open to visiting member of the public.
Incidental to the restoration work was considerable internal protection works to the Victorian Telescope and various glass display cases.
Consultant: Industrial Heritage Consulting Ltd
Client: Dundee City Council City Engineers Division