Clifton Downs and Observatory
Historic corn windmill, circa 1766, with an observation tower offering picturesque views of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the city of Bristol.
The corn windmill was converted to grind tobacco and it was also known as ‘the Snuff Mill”. After a number of unoccupied years, in the late 1820’s the mill had a large telescope installed into the tower and thus creating the observatory.
The Camera obscura is a convex lens and sloping mirror installed on the top of the tower; these project the panoramic view vertically downward into the darkened room below. Visitors can view the true image on a fixed circular table with a concave metal surface, and turn the mirror by hand to change the direction of view.
There is also a tunnel 61 m (200 ft) long from the Observatory to St Vincent’s Cave (also known as Giant’s Cave), which opens onto St Vincent’s Rocks on the cliff face.
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