A telescope by Henry Hindley

This post was written by Tim Hughes, student on the Clocks course at West Dean College.


An equatorially mounted telescope by Henry Hindley of York


The work of Henry Hindley of York was researched by Rodney Law and published in Antiquarian Horology (1971/2).  The article describes  two equatorially mounted telescopes signed Hindley.  The first of the two telescopes forms part of the collection of the Burton Constable Foundation, East Yorkshire, and the later instrument is now in the collection of the Science Museum London.

In recent months, the earlier instrument (circa 1740) has been through a process of conservation cleaning and close study by Tim Hughes of West Dean College.  The instrument is regarded as of significance and is known to have been purchased by William Constable for use in the eighteenth century observations of the Transit of Venus.  The telescope mount bears much resemblance to that by James Short published in Philosophical Transactions in 1760, having meridional, equatorial and declination circles over a primary setting circle.  Interestingly, Hindley’s telescope mount is a combination of sound mechanical clockmaking practice – including the very precise and beautifully made worm gearing – and surprisingly unstable telescope mount which raises questions about the development process and Hindley’s involvement with the various stages of manufacture.  The instrument is signed on the micrometer box only, which is in itself a piece of clockmaking genius.  Within the box are fitted four reticule frames, connected by intermeshing contrate wheels operated by a setting knob.  The reticules form an adjustable square frame within the field of vision allowing angular measurement of the size or distance between objects.

The micrometer box with cover plates removed

The reticule frame








The declination circle

The declination screw in its pivotted frame







Work on cleaning and recording the instrument is almost completed and has been assisted by Charles Frodsham and Company Limited who have kindly carried out measurement of the gearing of the equatorial circle and its driving worm.  Once re-assembled, we intend to carry out field tests with the help of a professional surveyor in order to better understand the calibration and range of the instrument which may further inform its purpose and limitations.  A paper giving a technical description of the construction of the instrument to appear in AH in due course!


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2 Responses to A telescope by Henry Hindley

  1. chris rowe says:

    I’ve been researching Henry Hindley recently but can find no description of him. Are there any portraits of him?

  2. Sylvia Hogarth says:

    I am currently drafting a paper on 18th c York craftsmen and inventors and find this article very useful. Would it be possible to obtain an image of the telescope in due course? I guess I would need to approach the Science Museum.
    Has the planned article appeared in AH yet. It would be interesting too.
    The work of Hindley was also written up by John Setchell. Setchell, John (1972) ‘Henry Hindley & son Clock and Instrument Makers and Engineers of York’, Annual Report Yorkshire Philosophical Society, pp 39 – 67
    Sylvia Hogarth, Dr

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