45-13 The former Adelaide Observatory

Before the Adelaide High School was on this site, it had a history, for almost a hundred years, as something very different. From 1860 to 1951 on the site of the Adelaide High School there was a large compound with various buildings, together known as the Adelaide Observatory.

An area of 1.6 hectares was set aside in 1861. This was organised by the “Government Astronomer” Charles Todd who until that time had been running the “Observatory” functions from his home in North Adelaide.

This was before Federation so there was no Federal Government, and no Bureau of Meteorology. Mr Todd was basically running the South Australian weather bureau from this site. His work was mainly about the weather and not much about astronomy.

For most of its 90-year life, the Observatory compound comprised a collection of buildings for scientific purposes. They included an “Astronomer’s Residence” as well as what was described as a “Transit Room” and a two-storey “Observatory tower”. There was a telescope and a seismograph, rain gauges, water tanks, sheds. stables, and a garage.

The functions and buildings on the site gradually expanded over the decades. When the Federal Government was formed in 1901 there was a Commonwealth weather station on the site, as well as a State Astronomical section within the same buildings.

Eventually, in 1940, the weather bureau moved out and erected their own building next door, on a much smaller block of land, right on the corner of West Terrace and Glover Avenue.

A few years later, in 1951, the newer Weather Bureau building stayed, but the Observatory was removed – relocated to Adelaide University - to make way for the Adelaide High School

Walk a little closer to the High School, to learn about its history.

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