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A Grand Day Out

Club Trip to Jodrell Bank 2023

The huge Lovell Telescope has been a much-loved fixture of the Cheshire countryside since 1957. We visited as a club in the summer of 2000, and
remembered a wonderful planetarium presentation but a rather basic visitor centre. The trees of the surrounding arboretum were still immature then too.

So in 2023 we thought it was high time we went to Jodrell Bank again and we made it our summer outing for this year. The visitor Centre is now in several buildings and the museum display is amazing, going through the history of the site and how important it was during the Cold War – it was actually neutral, and did work for and received scientists from both Western governments and the Soviet Union. It was thus a very important bridge in keeping communications open between the two sides. There is a lot of very well presented archive material that paints a vivid picture of the work on the site over the years. It evolved rapidly from an extremely primitive one-man band (Bernard Lovell of Manchester University) in 1945 to a busy science hub from 1957 onwards. It is still a very active part of the University of Manchester’s research, as well as joining in with European and global networks of telescopes.


The new planetarium show was really impressive. The science of astrophysics has advanced hugely in the last 23 years, so the presentation had a lot to cram into half an hour but covered everything very effectively.

Some of us went to another talk on the history of the site from a more physics-based perspective, and that was really interesting. Younger members of the group (accompanying grand-children) enjoyed an animated film introducing them to the wonders of space.


The arboretum is now a really peaceful place full of trees in their prime. And a lot of butterflies and dragonflies! There are bee hives there too (but no honey for sale in the shop).

It really was A Grand Day Out, and without needing to build your own space ship.
Sarah Froggatt