29 May 2014

Clifton Observatory

A splendid view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge can be had from a balcony cantilevered out from the mouth of Ghyston's, or St Vincent's, Cave, 90 feet below the top, and 250 feet above the foot, of St Vincent's Rocks.

The tunnel to this, excavated by the artist William West, is accessed from the nearby Grade II listed Observatory. This started life in 1766 as a corn mill, was later used to grind snuff, and was abandoned in 1777 when a strong gale over-drove the sails and set light to the mechanism.

West rented the mill from 1828, used it as his studio, and installed a camera obscura. He also determined to link the Observatory to Ghyston's Cave, previously accessible only via the cliff face. The cave has at times served as a chapel, is first mentioned as such in the early fourth century.

The tunnel, through limestone, is 2,000 feet long, took two years to cut, and first opened in 1837. Stone and brick steps make an initial descent, which is continued more gradually by way of concrete steps. A metal stairway drops into the cave, from which there are steps up to the suspended balcony.

1 comment:

abijsmith said...

Clearly a nutter!