Menu closed Menu open

Equatorial Observatory

Penllergare, Swansea, Wales

The Penllergare Trust

Grade II*

New future for historic astronomcal observatory

Constructed in 1846 by John Dillwyn Llewelyn, a pioneering photographer with interests in science and astronomy, the Equatorial Observatory is both a Grade II*-listed building and a scheduled ancient monument. Situated in Penllergare Valley Woods, the building consists of two rooms – the observatory and laboratory. The observatory is a cylindrical tower comprising a circular stone-built telescope chamber while the adjoining laboratory is a single-storey rectangular structure with a vaulted roof, interior terracotta block walls and a fireplace. In 1855, one of the earliest photographs of the moon was taken from the observatory by Llewelyn and his daughter, Thereza.

The Penllergare Trust exists to conserve, restore and maintain the historic and significant Penllergare Valley Woods. Working in partnership with Dark Sky Wales, the Trust plans to fully restore the Equatorial Observatory and create a planetarium in the tower. Alongside interactive displays highlighting the history of the building and its role in early photography, a programme of activities will be curated and delivered to schools, young people and the growing astro-tourism sector. Educational visits to the observatory will link to the new national curriculum in Wales, with a focus on local history and STEM subjects, including space.

The AHF has supported The Penllergare Trust with two Project Development Grants, awarded in 2022 and 2023 respectively. These contributed towards staff costs to coordinate the development phase of the project and helped the Trust to commission a team of professionals to complete investigative surveys and a business plan. 

Penllergare Observatory - Penllergare Valley Woods

AHF Funding

Project Development Grant - £18,248 (2022)

Project Development Grant - £19,910 (2023)

Photo credits
Jess Bennetts
Celeste Ryan

of 1   /