Orwell Astronomical Society (Ipswich)

Home Events

Astronomical Interest at Ipswich & District Natural History Society

The Ipswich Science-Gossip Society formed in 1869 and, in 1875, changed its name to the Ipswich Scientific Society. In 1924, it amalgamated with the Ipswich & District Field Club to form the Ipswich & District Natural History Society (IDNHS). In late 1948, an astronomy section of IDNHS formed and, in early 1950, became an independent society, Ipswich & District Astronomical Society (IDAS). IDAS was active until mid-1957.

The following material held in Suffolk Record Office describes astronomical interest at IDNHS prior to the formation of its astronomy section.

Holding GC444/6/1, IDNHS Journals 1908-21

Vol 4, October 1913

Page 3. Fixture List 1911, March 4, lecture: "The Planet Mars", Mr A J Hamblin.

Vol 5 part 1, November 1917

Page iii. Fixture List 1915, January 9, lecture: "Through a 3-inch Telescope", Mr H C Trent, BSc.

Page iv. Fixture List 1916, March 4, lecture: "The Sun's Family", Miss A Grace Cook, FRAS.

Vol 6, June 1921

Page iii. Fixture List 1918, November 9, lecture: "Some Astronomical Discoveries", Miss A Grace Cook, FRAS.

Holding GC444/6/2, IDNHS Journals 1925-35

Vol 1, part 1, June 1925

Page iv. Members of IDNHS were invited to attend meetings of other societies in the town, amongst them Ipswich Chaldean Society.

Page v. Fixture List 1921, December 10, lecture: "The Spectroscope in Astronomy", Mr F J Webb.

Page viii. Fixture List 1924, December 6, lecture: "Our Surroundings in Space", Mr A F Bennett, M Inst C E.

Vol 1, part 2, July 1930

Page 74. List of members includes:

Page 79. Fixture List 1926, November 6, lecture: "The Moon, Mars and some Stars", Mr Roland L T Clarkson, FCS.

Page 81. Fixture List 1928, August 25, Excursion: Orwell Park, Capt E G Pretyman, P C and Mr E Hancox.
November 24, lecture: "Recent Developments in Astronomy", Mr A Morris, MSc.
Fixture List 1929, January 19, lecture: "The Night Sky and the Camera", Mr E H Collinson.

Vol 1, part 3, November 1932

Page 146. List of members includes:

Page 150. Fixture List, 1931, January 31, lecture: "The Moon", Mr H G Tomkins.

Page 151. Fixture List, 1932, February 27, lecture: "The Sun", Mr A Bennett.

Vol 1, part 4, December 1935

Page 204. List of members includes:

Page 208. Fixture List, 1933, November 4, Lecture: "Is There Life on the Planets?", Mr E H Collinson.

Page 246-253. A Visit to an Observatory, by E R H Hancox, FSA (article is a general story of a visit to an observatory).

Notes On E R H Hancox And Others

Edward Richard Henry Hancox was born in Lewisham, Kent in 1863 and married Eliza Catherine Curtis in Ipswich in 1894.

Summary information:

Holding GC444/1/6, IDNHS Minute Book 1924-33

Loose inserts at front of book

1. IDNHS Conversazione, 13 December 1930.
Amongst other exhibits were astronomical photographs by Mr E H Collinson. [1]
Music by the H Hinsley Burgham Orchestra.

2. Undated press cutting
Report of the Annual Conversazione Meeting.
Henry Ogle President (p.149 in the minute book gives 1930 as the date when Mr Ogle was elected).
Mr E H Collinson showed some astronomical photographs, some from Mount Wilson, USA, others taken by himself and by Mr H G Tomkins.

3. Programme Card for 1933
Honorary Members included H Hinsley Burgham.
Other Members of Committee included E H Collinson.

[page 1] First annual meeting, 26 January 1924, Vice President Mr Guy B Petter. At 8.00pm a conversazione was held to the accompaniment of Mr H Hinsley Burgham's Salon Orchestra. E H Collinson was among the exhibitors.

[page 26] Committee meeting, 25 September 1924. Mr Guy B Petter formally resigned the office of Vice President owing to being obliged to leave the town.

[page 37] Meeting, 05 December 1924 in the Museum Lecture Room. Mr A F Bennett gave a lecture entitled "Our Surroundings in Space". A vote of thanks was proposed by Mr W Rowley Elliston and seconded by Mr E J Howard Collinson.

[page 76] Committee meeting, 29 April 1926. E H Collinson resigned from IDNHS. It was decided to visit Orwell Park observatory in September.

[page 79] Committee meeting, 28 July 1926. Mr R L T Clarkson attended upon invitation and gave an interesting report upon the Congress of the South Eastern Union of Scientific Societies at Colchester. A short discussion followed and thanks were expressed to Mr Clarkson for his report and the trouble he had taken.

[page 83] Committee meeting, 18 October 1926. Mr E H Collinson and Mr Hugh Collinson joined IDNHS.

[page 85] Meeting, 06 November 1926. Mr R L T Clarkson, FCS of Dedham gave an illustrated lecture entitled "Moon Mars and Some Stars". A vote of thanks was proposed by Mr J D Ray and seconded by Mr E H Collinson.

[page 90] Committee meeting, 29 November 1926. It was decided to ascertain the possibility of viewing the annular eclipse of the sun on 29 July by means of the telescope at Orwell Park. Mr W Rowley Elliston nominated for the post of president for the subsequent year.

[page 93] Fourth Annual General Meeting, held at the Museum, 22 January 1927. Mr W Rowley Elliston elected to the post of President. Membership stood at 253.

[page 101] Committee meeting, 28 February 1927. Mr Brinkley stated that having obtained more information on the total eclipse in June, the proposed trip to Orwell Park would have to be abandoned as not practical. Mr Maynard proposed that information be obtained of the facilities offered by the LNER for excursions to the area of totality and also if possible to find a locality which would give the best conditions for viewing the eclipse and also provide local interest.

[page 108] Committee meeting, 21 March 1927. The Secretary gave particulars of an excursion to Richmond to view the total eclipse of 29 June. A discussion followed as to ways and means of running an excursion from Ipswich. Mr Boeree stated that the LNER would run an excursion for between 150 and 200 adults and that a party of about 50 would be coming from Ipswich School. Mr Morris said he doubted if he could get more than 20 from the IMSS. The President felt that it was too big an affair for the Society to undertake to organise. Mr Reid proposed and Mr Boeree seconded that the Secretary write to the LNER suggesting that they make known their proposals in the EADT, this was agreed.

[page 113] Committee meeting, 07 September 1927. A letter from Mr Clarkson of Dedham was read suggesting that a visit to Orwell Park Observatory be arranged; the Secretary was asked to get into touch with Mr Hiscox (?) and arrange this if possible.

[page 138] Meeting, 24 November 1928. Mr Alfred Morris gave his presidential address on "Recent Discoveries in Astronomy". Press cutting attached.

[page 140] Annual Meeting, 19 January 1929. Mr E H Collinson lectured on "The Night Sky and the Camera". Press cutting attached.

[page 149] Seventh Annual Meeting, 01 February 1930. Mr Henry Ogle was elected president (this dates the loose insert at the front of this book).

[page 154] Committee meeting, 14 July 1930. Mr Collinson told the committee that he had use of the telescope at Orwell Park Observatory and was willing to arrange an evening visit in October.

[page 162] Conversazione meeting, 13 December 1930. Amongst other exhibits, Mr E H Collinson displayed some astronomical photographs. Mr H Hinsley Burgham's orchestra provided the music throughout the evening.

[page 167] Meeting, 31 January 1931. Mr H G Tomkins gave a lecture on "The Moon", press cutting attached. At the end of the meeting, Mr Collinson revealed that the incomparably fine photographs illustrating Mr Tomkins' exposition of his theories had been taken by Mr Tomkins himself at Dedham, the instrument he uses being a 24-inch reflector telescope of his own construction.

[page 168] Meeting, 11 April 1931. Mr E H Collinson read a paper on "Photography in Science, Industry and Medicine" by Mr T Thorne Baker, and supplemented it with his own observations and slides. Press cutting attached.

[page 178] Meeting, 07 February 1932. Mr A F Bennett gave an illustrated lecture on "The Sun". Press cutting attached.

[page 198] Meeting, 04 November 1933. Mr E H Collinson gave a very interesting lecture entitled "Is there life on the Planets". Mr R L T Clarkson proposed a vote of thanks.

[page 202] End of book.

Holding GC444/1/7, IDNHS Minute Book 1933-60

[page 45] Meeting, 20 February 1937. Mr Roland L T Clarkson lectured on "The Constellations and What Lies Beyond Them". Press cutting attached.

[page 74] Meeting, 11 March 1939. Mr Edward H Collinson lectured on "The Sun and the Stars". Press cutting attached.

[page 135] 22nd Annual Meeting, 27 January 1945. Mr R L T Clarkson elected President.

[page 138] General meeting, 13 April 1946. Mr R L T Clarkson gave his Presidential Address "Recent Observations Concerning the Sun".

[page 141] General meeting, 18 January 1947. In the absence through illness of the President, the chair was taken by Mr D J Carpenter. He announced that Mr R L T Clarkson had been elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. The Hon Sec was requested to convey congratulations to Mr Clarkson.

[page 153] Press cutting attached describing a visit by IDNHS to Orwell Park Observatory. The tour was led by Mr N H Wilkinson, Mr R L T Clarkson, FRAS and Mr D J Fulcher.

[page 155] Committee meeting, 19 October 1948. The Hon Sec read a letter from Mr R L T Clarkson proposing to form an Astronomical Section. The committee instructed the Hon Sec to place notices in the EADT and the Star announcing a public meeting to discuss the matter. Two press cuttings attached announcing formation of the Section.

[page 156] Notice of meetings attached. Incluldes a meeting of the Astronomical Section on 20 January 1949. Latter meeting including a talk by Mr D J Fulcher, entitled "A Brief Tour of the Solar System", followed by a general discussion on astronomy.

[page 157] Meeting, 13 November 1948. In a discussion on the Astronomical Section, the Hon Sec gave particulars of the public meeting to be held to ascertain the practicability of establishing the Section.

[page 158] Press cutting attached. Details the 25th Annual Meeting of the Society. Mr D J Fulcher, Hon Sec of the Astronomical Section stated: "The newly formed Astronomical Section has 50 members".

[page 159] Committee meeting, 29 November 1948. The Hon Sec read a lengthy report by Mr R L T Clarkson, FRAS, Chairman of the Public Meeting held at the Museum Lecture Room on 20 November 1948. The committee agreed to form an Astronomical Section, subject to the approval of the annual meeting. Programme for 1949 attached, includes details of Astronomical Section meeting on 26 February with showing of a film "Stairway to Heaven" to be followed by a talk "The Night Sky in Spring and Summer".

[page 160] General meeting, 11 December 1948. The Chairman reminded members of the first meeting of the newly formed Astronomical Section.

[page 162] 25th Annual Meeting, 15 January 1949. Minutes record that the formation of a new Astronomical Section was approved, proposed by Mr H E J Spencer and seconded by Mr D G Porter.

[page 163] Summer programme for 1949 attached. Includes the following notices of meetings of Astronomical Section:

1. Notice of meeting of the Section on 19 March with the programme consisting of an illustrated talk on "The Moon" by Mr R L T Clarkson, FRAS, and a talk on "What to see Without a Telescope" by Mr D J Fulcher.

2. Notice of The April Meeting of the Section:

The April Meeting of the Section will be held at the Nacton Road Girl's School, on Thursday, 7th April 1949, at 7.30pm. (Trolley bus routes 2, 2a, 6 to Murray Road, then continue for 100 yards along Nacton Road).

If the sky is clear, the programme will consist of the identification of the brighter stars and the main constellations, together with demonstrations of what can be seen with small telescopes. If the weather is cloudy, an alternative indoor programme will be arranged.

Friends invited, and members owning small hand telescopes or field-glasses are asked to bring them along.

Will members please note the above dates as, no further notices can be issued in respect of these meetings.

19, Gloucester Road,
Telephone 78625

Section Secretary.

[page 165] Committee meeting, 12 February 1949. Mr D J Fulcher reported on the activities of the Astronomical Section and asked for a formalisation of its finances, to put them on a sound footing, and suggested an application to the Education Committee for assistance.

[page 171] Press cutting attached. Details the conversazione meeting, 25 February 1950. Amongst the exhibits were "astronomical instruments" by Mr D J Fulcher.

[page 172] Programme leaflet for winter session 1949-50 attached. Includes notice of following meeting of Astronomical Section:

Astronomical Section
At the Museum Lecture Room, High Street, Ipswich, on Saturday, 19th November, 1949, at 7.30pm.

"The Amateur's Place in Modern Astronomy", an illustrated talk, by E H Collinson, FRAS.

"The Night Sky in Winter", a description of the stars and constellations visible in winter, by K Phelps, Esq.

Construction and Observing Group, Demonstrations at 7pm.

Hon. Section Secretary,
19, Gloucester Road,

[page 175] Committee meeting, 14 December 1949. Mr D J Fulcher, Hon Sec of Astronomical Section, gave his views on the position of the Section and Mr Spencer dealt with its finances. The meeting agreed to ask Mr Fulcher to submit a formal resolution from Section members as to whether to should secede from the parent body, the result of a postal ballot being acceptable. Proposed by Mr Spencer and seconded by Mr Brinkley.

[page 177] 26th Annual Meeting, 14 January 1950. Mr D J Fulcher reported that he had carried out a postal ballot of Astronomical Section members. About 40 were in favour and three against cessation from IDNHS. The Section was formally wound up and the new Astronomical Society would be formed on 21 January. In recognition of their valuable work in connection with IDNHS, Mr R L T Clarkson and two other gentlemen were made honorary members of the Society.

[subsequent pages] The minute book runs to page 348 in February 1960, but there is no further mention of astronomy. It seems therefore that IDNHS did not re-start an interest in astronomy after IDAS folded.



Confusingly, the minutes refer to certainly two and possibly three Collinsons: Edward Howard Collinson (prominent astronomer), Hugh Collinson (his brother) and J H Collinson (thought to be his father, more interested in photography, cinematography, and travelogues).

Bill Barton, FRAS