Something that we didn't consider to be a significant problem during construction was drainage. And so we put in a small square drain on the north-south facing wall, near the door. Water from the guttering ran down a vertical pipe into this drain. It proved to be completely inadequate, and the result has been a significant amount of damage.
As I've already said, the buildings are sited on an upwards-sloping enclosure, leading up to rugby and cricket fields above and beyond the observatory. The amount of surface run-off and ground saturation that we get here in the southwest is considerable: the local weather is very wet indeed.
Rain has caused one or two floods in the winter, the drain being easily blocked by leaves. The dome was of course unaffected, but the workroom below filled with about 7 in (180 mm) of water. We have now remedied the situation, by hiring a small digger and excavating a much larger and more effective drain, down towards the school's central water collection points. This is therefore an important consideration when building a permanent structure of this sort.
As I have already mentioned, everything is sunk down below the normal level of the land. This was an
Figure 14.6 The plinth used to support the 0.5m refractor is 4ft x 5ft x 6ft deep. a cross-section. b plan.
attempt to make the observatory as inconspicuous as possible, an important consideration in modern times when property is at such a high risk of vandalism. The school grounds are easily accessible to the public and we were in a predictably vulnerable position. Even though we have had problems with graffiti, with hindsight, we should have made the building considerably higher. This would have allowed us an improved view in some directions, and is one of the few things we would have done differently if starting from the beginning again.
However, all projects of this type have a few problems. Overall, the Torquay Boys' Grammar School Observatory has been a complete success and has made quite an impression upon the community. The equipment has performed at high levels, allowing research to be done in comfort.
The observatory has been host to many visits and is an invaluable educational tool in the southwest. The buildings have been used as laboratories, workshops, darkrooms, and computing posts during the day and evening. Solar work has been done along with deep-sky and planetary work. The observatory has performed even better than was hoped, becoming larger and more effective in its local role, and has succeeded in educating a community of adults and school children alike, in astronomy.
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