Jodrell Bank Observatory becomes world heritage site


An observatory in Cheshire that has been at the forefront of astronomical research for decades has been added to the Unesco world heritage list.

The Jodrell Bank Observatory, which is owned by the University of Manchester, joins historic sites such as Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal.

It opened in 1945 in Macclesfield and is the home of the Lovell telescope, the world’s third largest steerable radio telescope which weighs 3,200 tonnes.

The heritage minister Rebecca Pow said she was delighted the observatory had become the UK’s 32nd world heritage site. She said the coveted listing would “make sure that this remarkable site will continue to inspire young scientists and astronomers all over the world”.

Pow added: “The research completed here has transformed our understanding of the universe and it is right that this is recognised.”

The site tracked US and Russian crafts during the space race and pioneered radio astronomy using radio waves instead of visible light to understand the universe.

The observatory featured in BBC’s Stargazing Live series, Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Doctor Who.

Teresa Anderson, director of the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, said: “This is wonderful news and a great day in the history of Jodrell Bank. It honours the pioneering work of Sir Bernard Lovell and the early scientists here, together with the world-leading research that continues to this day.

“Receiving this recognition will help us tell their story and the story of the communities connected to the site both across the UK and worldwide.”

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