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Report - Penllergare Observatory - Wales - June - 2015


Bajo Tierra
Regular User
Some History

A Victorian space observatory where some of the world’s earliest photographs of the moon were taken, Photographic pioneer John Dillwyn Llewelyn took early pictures of the moonscape in 1857 from the observatory. The astronomical observatory was built in 1846 by wealthy industrialist and renaissance man John Dillwyn Llewelyn - a founder member of the Royal Photographic Society.

After installing a telescope in the building, he and his daughter Thereza captured some of the earliest photographs of the moon. Llewelyn was a noted botanist, scientist, abolitionist and a health campaigner as well as a world-renowned photographer. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert bought many of his pioneering works to add to their growing photographic collection.

His invention of the Oxymel process - the use of honey and vinegar to instantly preserve images - in the 1850s meant landscape photographers could do away with cumbersome portable laboratories and darkroom tents. Llewelyn’s industrialist family owned the Cambrian pottery in Swansea, South Wales, and he inherited Penllergare house and estate in 1833. He died in 1882, aged 72

For more than half a century the Penllergare estate was almost forgotten and the mansion was destroyed and replaced by council offices.But now the historic observatory and surviving estate woodlands have been saved for the nation by a £2.9m Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Sadly even with extensive research the two telescopes seem to have been lost in the 1930s but the main building and lab still stands

The observatory in 1850

John Llewelyn

His daughter Thereza Llewelyn

One of the first pictures ever taken of the moon from the observatory in 1857






2015 with lottery funding work in progress








Thanks for looking​
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