Connected histories: the Triangle and the Royal Observatory – homes, people, institutions

Lecture notes


This page is intended to support a lecture given by Graham Dolan
The Ashburnham Triangle Association Local History Group
Thursday 24 January 2022.





Dates in triangle
John Belville Valentine Terrace (Blackheath Road) 1833–1840 Assistant. Entered Observatory 1811. Died in Post 1856
John Pond 2 Valentine Terrace (71 Blackheath Road) 1835–1836 Appointed Astronomer Royal 1811. Retired 1835. Died 1836
Edwin Dunkin 5 St Mary's Place, Greenwich Road (later 20 Greenwich High Road 1839–1846 Appointed Computer 1838, Retired Chief Assistant 1884
Charles Todd (14 Ashburnham Grove) n/a Appointed Computer 1841, To Cambridge as Junior Assistant 1847. Returned to Greenwich 1854. Took up post in Australia 1855, Son in law William Bragg and grandson, William Henry Bragg, shared the Nobel Prize for physics
Henry Todd 14 Ashburnham Grove 1856 Younger brother of above. Appointed Computer 1855. To Cambridge Observatory 1856?. Grandson, Frank Carr, Director of the National Maritime Museum 1947-1966
James Carpenter 14 Ashburnham Grove.
Chester Villa, 58 Greenwich South Street
Appointed Computer 1854, Assistant 1859, Married into Penn family 1868. Resigned 1872 to work for John Penn & Sons. Assisted with introduction of x-ray technology to Miller Hospital
Charles Davidson 21 Egerton Road (Egerton Drive) 1905–1924 Appointed Computer 1890. Resigned 1895. Appointed Established Computer 1896, Assistant 1919. Retired 1937. Famous for the Einstein eclipse expedition in 1919
George Rickett Greenwich Central School, Catherine Grove left 1918 Entered Observatory as a computer. Appointed Junior Assistant 1923, Regraded As Senior Experimental Officer 1948/9. Evacuated WW2 to Bristol, then Bradford on Avon. Moved with Observatory to Herstmonceux Sussex


Posts at the Observatory covered in the talk

Overview – a guide to grading and staffing structures

Astronomer Royal

First Assistant

The Assistant grades

The post of Computer

Christie’s ‘Lady Computers’ – the astrographic pioneers of Greenwich



Historic maps of Greenwich


Further reading

Records of the Miller Hospital and Royal Kent Dispensary. John Poland (1893)