I have long had a fascination with the Observatory on Bidston Hill, wondering what sort of things could be seen through their telescopes. I dont really think i understood that the ‘telescope’ in question was actually an equatorial telescope which was used mainly for the observation of comets and a transit telescope which was used to determination the time from the stars. Not the exciting constellation gazing that i thought!
Bidston Observatory was built in 1866 using local sandstone excavated from the site, one of the functions of the Observatory was to determine the exact time and up to the 18th of July 1969, at exactly 1:00 p.m. each day the ‘One O’Clock Gun’ was fired.
On the Hill is a 41⁄2-foot-long carving of a Sun Goddess, carved into a flat rock north-east of the Observatory – it is supposed to face the direction of the rising sun on Midsummer’s Day and was thought to have been carved by the Norse-Irish around 1000 AD. An ancient carving of a horse is also located on bare rock to the north of the Observatory though i still have not been able to find either.
Bidston Hill is one of the rumoured resting places for the Holy Grail and may have been mentioned in the tale of Gawain in his account on travelling near the Wirral, there are also links to Joseph of Arimethea in the area too.
If you stand on the top of the hill it is said that you can hear the sound of water rushing on the rocks near the Observatory, this has led to speculation that there is an underground water source which may link tunnels from the Hill to New Brighton.
The Wirral has a rich and very interesting history, whether you believe it all or not, it is still a great place to visit and the photographic opportunities many. From a quick romp over the ‘Hill’ to a leisurely walk around the ‘Lake’ there are so many beautiful vistas you can spend hours photographing and not cover anywhere near a significant portion of it.
The other BIG draw to Bidston Hill for me is the Windmill! It is believed that there has been a windmill on this site since 1596, the current Windmill is a brick built tower with a cap that could be turned so that the sails could catch the wind, though how would they have got carts up and down the hill to collect the flour? I do know that the Windmill is something i will be going back to as i think that it will be a very interesting subject in all weathers and lighting situations.
I was speaking to a great guy at the tram museum in Birkenhead today about trams and buses. He is certain that there are buses buried in the field behind the windmill. (I think it was landfill at one time.) Wouldn’t it be great to get Time Team down and find out!