Clifton Observatory

When we took on this incredible project to restore the Clifton Observatory, we wanted to bring this iconic building back into public use. At this stage; little did we know of its historical significance and the stories surrounding the building.

Over the last few years we have opened the Museum, Camera Obscura and the Giants Cave. We have since opened the venue for events and allowed citizens of Bristol and those all around the world to become part of the of the rich history. From couples sharing their wedding day, to family and friends celebrating birthday parties or perhaps a Christening. We also host Corporate conferences and Summer/Christmas parties. The Observatory offers breathtaking views and allows you, to become a part of its history.

History Of the Clifton Observatory

1766

James Walters awarded £200 by the society of Merchants to build a windmill on Clifton Down

1768

A Violent Storm causes the windmill to catch fire

1828

Society of Merchant Ventures grant a 7-year lease on the ruined windmill a 5 shillings per annum to William West who converts the tower into an Observatory

1829

First Competition announced for Clifton Observatory Suspension Bridge – Brunel’s Giant’s hole design is one of his four record-breaking schemes

1835

Whilst excavating the foundations west discovers natural caves. He excavates a 91m tunnel connecting his Observatory to the ‘Giant’s Cave’

1837

Giants Cave opened to the public

1860

William West Dies, aged 60

1897

A proposal to demolish the Observatory and replace it with a column, tower to commemorate the 500th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland was opposed and a tower was instead built on Brandon Hill

1940

The Observatory requisitioned by Home Guard as a communications and patrol base.

1977

The Observatory listed grade II* and sold by the society of merchant ventures with a restrictive covenant requiring the owners to maintain public access to the Camera Obscura and Giants Cave

2003

Concorde flies over the Observatory in the final minutes of its last flight

2015

Observatory sold into private ownership to Bristol-born resident

2017

Museum established at the Observatory