Jodrell Bank receives listed status
The Mark II telescope, Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, UK ©Mike Peel

Jodrell Bank receives listed status

Jodrell Bank’s secondary radio telescope, located in Cheshire, UK, has been awarded Grade I listed status for its pioneering role in radio astronomy.

The 38 metre Mark II radio telescope is the smaller of the two large dishes at the observatory site. The Lovell telescope – originally known as Mark I – was given the same status in 1988.

Crispin Edwards, listing advisor at Historic England, said: “Jodrell Bank is a remarkable place where globally important discoveries were made that transformed radio astronomy and our understanding of the Universe.”

Historic England said the listing celebrated the Cheshire observatory’s history and its impact on the world. Other buildings and structures at the site which have also played a pioneering role in the early stages of radio astronomy have been recognised.

Four buildings and part of a converted ex-army radar antenna – the Searchlight Aerial – have been awarded Grade II listing. They include the Park Royal building, the Electrical Workshop, the Link Hut and the Control Building.

Jodrell Bank Observatory has been pivotal to the development of new science, which involved capturing light at invisible radio wavelengths to “see” celestial objects that would otherwise be hidden.

The site was bought by the University of Manchester in 1939 and was first used for radio astronomy in 1945 by Sir Bernard Lovell and his team. The Mark II telescope was built between 1962-64 to the specifications of a jointly developed design by Lovell and structural engineer Charles Husband.

Director of the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, Professor Teresa Anderson, said: “Science is a hugely important bank of our cultural heritage and we are very pleased to see that recognised, and protected, with these new designations.”

Jodrell Bank Observatory’s work in radio astronomy started soon after World War Two. The Cheshire facility also houses the headquarters for the multinational Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project for its pre-construction phase.

The SKA was awarded €5m from the European Union’s Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 in 2015 to advance some of its scientific activities.