The 5"inch Cooke.
He was the son of John Rylands, a wire mill owner in Warrington. On his fathers retirement Thomas Rylands, together with his two brothers, Peter and John the younger, took over the running of the wire mill and made the family bussiness one of the most successful in the North West. Thomas Rylands had many interests outside the running of his fathers wire mill. one of which was astronomy. Astronomy attrached and fascinated Thomas Rylands early in his life, even before he possessed a telescope. In 1865 at Heath House, one of his many Warrington residences, he built a wooden observatory of two storeys, with a revolving dome. It was there that he placed his newly purchased 5¨inch equatorial telescope and a 2"inch transit instrument, both of which were made by Cooke of York. Soon he was able to make frequent observations as and when the Mersey weather would allow, and he would send these observations to the Royal Astronomical Society, having become a fellow in 1866. However his observing nights were often disturbed by boys throwing stones into the open shutter of the dome, to the peril of both observer and instrument. As soon as these "bombardments" began Rylands was forced to close the shutter and wait patiently until as he himself stated " the enemy raised the siege".
"That the Lord Mayor be requested to affix the cororate seal to the agreement with the Liverpool Astronomical Society as to the deposit of an equatorial (telescope) in the observatory at the Nautical College".
At the Society meeting held on October 31st 1893, Mr Rylands, who was for many years a member of the Liverpool Astronomical Society appointed trustees of the 5¨inch Cooke telescope. The handing over of the telescope may have taken place some years before, but the Society minute books recorded the society taking possession of the 5¨inch Cooke in October 1893. The observatory together with the telescope were to relocate to their present home sometime between 1899 - 1901, when a new bigger Nautical College was opened in the newly built Central Municipal Technical College building,(now part of NMGM "Liverpool Museum"), which opened to students in October 1901.
The rest is as they say is "LAS history", but what became of Thomas Rylands?. Sadly not long after the above events he contracted influenza from which he never made a full recovery, and he died in his sleep on February 14th 1900 at his house Highfields, Thelwall. The House can still be seen to-day, but sadly his observatory has been pulled down.
This page is maintained by Gerard Gilligan. E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated on July 30th 1998.
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