This week, a start has been made digitising the archive material found in the cupboard along with the blue book a couple of weeks ago. Ian, one of the telescope controllers, has been helping me with this as he knows quite a bit about the history of the telescope and the Observatory in general. In two days he scanned enough images to fill eight CDs with data! He's going to transfer it all to a DVD to go with the catalogue I've started.
Eventually (in time for the 50th anniversary in 2007), a lot of this material will all be available online in the Jodrell Bank archive, but there isn't much there yet, I just put up a quick intro page today which links to other interesting pages on the Jodrell website. There are two photos though:
Construction of the Mk 1 telescope at Jodrell Bank in the 1950s. Left: view of the telescope with most of the major steelwork completed. Large amounts of scaffolding can still be seen under the bowl and a crane is behind the tower on the right of the image. At this point the fixing of the surface panels has begun, but still has a long way to go. Right: the view from one of the towers during the assembly of the backing structure for the bowl. Here you can see the central hub at the base of the bowl and some of the ribs which will eventually support the membrane from underneath. CREDIT: University of Manchester
There will be plenty more over the next few months as the contents of the cupboard are properly catalogued. Tomorrow I am going to rescue some more archive material which has been sat in the old darkroom in one of the engineering buildings for several years. (I get the feeling that this is going to be a never ending job...) The telescope logbooks from the control room (which go as far back as October 1958) are all in one of the huts on site, but a squirrel has been getting in to the building and ripping up bits of paper. Although it can't all be protected as there isn't enough secure storage space for everything, the logbooks have now been moved into an old metal cupboard which will hopefully provide some protection against rampaging wildlife. Unfortunately it doesn't help with the damp though.
Yesterday I ended up showing Sir Bernard what I'd found. A man from The Engineer magazine visited the Observatory to interview Sir Bernard about his telescope and was talking to the controllers while waiting for his taxi to arrive. I popped in the control room on my way past and ended up getting out a stack of photos for them to look at. The man from The Engineer mentioned an article that had been published in their magazine back in 1957, just before the telescope was used for the first time, and today he very kindly sent a copy up. It is fascinating reading, as all this stuff is.