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Clifton Observatory

Clifton Observatory is a former mill, now used as an observatory, located on Clifton Down, close to the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol.  The building was erected, with the permission of the Society of Merchant Venturers, as a windmill for corn in 1766 and later converted to the grinding of snuff, when it became known as 'The Snuff Mill'. This was damaged by fire on 30 October 1777, when the sails were left turning during a gale and caused the equipment to catch alight. It was then derelict for 52 years until in 1828 William West, an artist, rented the old mill, for 5 shillings (25p) a year, as a studio. In 1977, the Merchant Venturers sold the observatory to Honorbrook Inns; however, they were obliged to maintain public access to the camera obscura whose ownership was retained by the Merchant Venturers. It has been designated by English Heritage as a grade II* listed building and is on the Buildings at Risk Register. In February 2015 the Observatory was bought by Ian Johnson, a local Bristol-based entrepreneur, who was born in Clifton not far from the Observatory.

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