Often referred to as ‘Sackville Street’s best-kept secret’, the Godlee observatory in Manchester city centre has been going strong for over 100 years – despite the fact that the roof is constructed from papier-mache.
Located in a tower on the roof of the University of Manchester’s Sackville Building (formerly the Municipal School of Technology), its origins date all the way back to 1892.
An impressive architectural feat, it’s stood high in the sky for over a century and even survived WWII, which saw a large proportion of old Manchester decimated by air raids.
Yet, despite the observatory having been at the heart of the city’s astronomical research for more than a century, most people don’t know this tiny window to the stars even exists.
But it does – and even better, it actually belongs to all of us.
Gifted to the city by an eccentric chap called Francis Godlee, it was donated to the people of Manchester when construction on the building and observatory was first completed in 1902.
Reached by way of a winding, ornate wrought iron staircase that dates all the way back to Edwardian times, and then by clambering through a trap door, it’s possible for anyone to visit and really does feel like a hidden secret – tucked away at the top of the impressive Spalding and Cross building.
The Godlee Observatory is home to two original telescopes made by Grubb of Dublin: a Newtonian telescope and a.refracting telescope, both of which date back to 1902. Apparently, if you know what you’re looking for, you can see all nine planets in the solar system from here – including Pluto.
As for that papier mache roof? It sounds impractical given the amount of rain we get here in Manchester, but it actually has a very sensible intention behind it.
The lightness of the material allows the dome’s panels to be rotated with ease using a wheel, opening up a space in the roof that’s perfect for stargazing. It’s an engineer’s dream.
And it’s not just the observatory that’s of interest. Its generous donor and namesake was, by all accounts, quite a character in his own right too.
Known for his massive clock collection, the businessman and philanthropist entertained a wide range of interests that ranged from breeding horses to yachting.
Fascinated with mechanisms and machines, he was so quick to get a telephone hwas awarded the magnificent number of ‘4’, and even had his own x-ray machine at home which he would apparently use to photograph visitor’s hands when they came to tea.
For years, the Godlee observatory has acted as the base for the Manchester Astronomical Society – which is said to be the oldest of its kind in the whole of England.
The society still meets here most Thursday evenings, and members of the public are able to attend on request – which we’d definitely recommend.
Today, Manchester’s astrologists prefer to use the Lovell Telescopes at Jodrell Bank when they scan the night sky – but that doesn’t mean that Godlee doesn’t have an important place in the history of astrology in the city.
Private guided tours of the facility can also be arranged.
Football fans call out ‘tone-deaf’ FA TikTok for mocking ‘life-threatening’ head injury
Football fans are calling out the official FA Cup TikTok account for mocking a serious head injury suffered by a Stockport County player earlier this week.
The Hatters beat Charlton Athletic in fine fashion with a 3-1 victory on Wednesday, 7 December, with Will Collar’s hattrick (the club’s first since 2019) sending them through to the next round of the cup.
However, another notable moment from the night was right back Macauley Southam-Hales’ collision with advertising hoarders after a shove from Charlton captain George Dobson.
As the likes of County fan Joel Ward wrote on Twitter, many online were quick to slam the clip for joking about an injury that hospitalised the player, the consensus being that it isn’t a “great look” for the FA.
While many reacting in the comments recognised that Dobson didn’t intend to hurt Southam-Hales by shepherding the ball out of play, the Stockport defender does hit the predominantly metal structure with some force and was left in clear discomfort following the smash.
The video itself has since been removed from the official account following the backlash but people are still reacting as the clip continues to be reshared on social media.
The clip was branded as everything from “disgusting” and “disgraceful” to “simply unbelievable”.
What’s most concerning is that despite the recent push to promote awareness surrounding concussions, brain trauma and even heading the ball – which, historically, haven’t been properly monitored in football – whoever posted the video on behalf of the FA didn’t consider the very serious nature of the incident.
As alluded to above, perhaps what makes the post even more shocking and tone-deaf is that it comes just weeks after Bath City player forward Alex Fletcher was placed in intensive care following an almost identical accident.
The 23-year-old underwent life-saving brain surgery and although he has since been discharged from the hospital, he is said to have a “long road to recovery ahead of him”.
County confirmed that despite being the all-clear pitchside, Southam-Hales was taken to the hospital as a precaution after he suffered significant swelling around the neck area. Nevertheless, as we know all too well, it could have been much worse.
As for the FA, they have now apologised for the inappropriate attempt at humour, confirming that they have removed the video from all official accounts, admitting that “it should never have been published and assuring that they will “review [their] processes to ensure this never happens again.”
You can watch the full highlights from Stockport County vs Charlton Athletic HERE but we’d recommend you watch Alan Shearer reminding everyone who plays football to be more vigilant when it comes to head injuries.
Andy Burnham wants to help more girls get into football
Andy Burnham has urged schools to do more to encourage young girls to get into football.
The Greater Manchester Mayor was speaking to Sky News‘ Kay Burley on Thursday, 8 December as he discussed the importance of promoting more women in football and sport, in general.
Burnham said that himself, the FA and notable women’s football advocates like former keeper Karen Bardsley are “determined” to make sure the buzz following the Women’s Euros isn’t just a flash in the pan.
With the England men’s team currently trying to replicate the Lionesses‘ success as they prepare for the quarter-final of the 2022 World Cup, he went on to emphasise the lasting memories football can create on a global scale.
The Mayor went on to say that with the help of schools across the UK, they hope to “make sure that the success the Lionesses had in the summer becomes a permanent legacy”, imploring schools, the sporting community and the nation at large “not let those summer memories fade”.
Insisting that he already feels the heroics of Euro 2022 have already had an impact when it comes to inspiring more girls to get into football.
He said that the uptake among “women in football” since the tournament has been “amazing” but warned educators and parents not to “leave it to chance” and provide the support to make “real change”.