The Jelbart Telescope
A 12.5cm (5-inch) brass refractor with a 187.5cm (75-inch) focal length, the Jelbart was donated in 1916.
Below is the official report in the Ballarat Courier from the 9th and 11th of August 1919 of the opening of the Jelbart Observatory. The report was illustrated with four large photographs; John Brittain, the Jelbart Telescope, the Courier Window and the Great Equatorial Telescope.
The Courier – 9th August 1919
“A large number o invitations have been issued for the official opening of the Municipal Observatory, Mount Pleasant, this afternoon, and the function promises to be both interesting and enjoyable. Jebart Bros. will formally hand over to the Mayor (Cr. A. Mackenzie) the fine equatorial refractor recently place in position within the new dome observatory. All the equipment will be open for inspection, and the various symbolic windows which adorn the different sections of the Observatory will be unveiled. The ornate window of cathedral glass installed by “The Courier” proprietary will be unveiled by Mr. Norman Clark, the Masonic symbol window by Past Grand Junior Warden Br. J. E. Ashley, the City Council Window by the Mayor (Cr. T. T. Hollway), the Christian symbolic window by the president of the Ballarat Preachers’ Association, the Oddfellows’ by a Grand Lodge officer.
The astronomical window, donated by Messrs Titheridge and Growcott, will be unveiled by Mrs. Titheridge, whilst the beautiful panels, the gift of the Cambrian Society and Mr. and Mrs. Kenny, of the orphanage, will also be unveiled; the former by the President of the Society, and the other, which represents the traditional; shield of King David, by ex-Mayor A. Levy. A large and representative gathering will be present, as also the various Parliamentary representatives for the district, and Brig-Gen R. E. Williams. The Masonic window will be unveiled with musical honors, and an oration will be delivered on the unveiling of the window donated by Brooks, Robinson, and Co., Melbourne. This part of the ceremony is allotted to Cr. W. Richards, the oration being on the words above the window, viz. : – “Wisdom, Strength, Beauty.” “
The Courier – 11th August 1919
New Telescope Taken Over
Ornamental Windows Unveiled
The Ceremony of the formal handing over to the Mayor of Ballarat East of the new Jelbart telescope with its housing at the observatory took place on Saturday afternoon, in the presence of a large gathering.
Mayor Mackenzie, who presided, called on Mr. Geo. Gilbert, as spokesman for the donors, to make the presentation.
Mr. Jelbart said he had great pleasure, on behalf of his brothers and himself, in making the presentation, especially as the conditions under which the gift was made had been fulfilled, and, indeed, excelled. He was pleased at the way the public had responded to the appeal to house the telescope, and especially at the attitude of the Trades and Labour Council. He added that the credit for making the gift of the telescope was particularly due to his brother Frank.
Mayor Mackenzie, in accepting the gift, said that day was the consummation of some years of hard work on the part of Mr. John Brittain, who by his quiet persistence and continuous advocacy had enlisted the sympathies of many residents. Ballarat was the only municipality that had an observatory in connection with it. it might not seem a matter for a municipality, but they believed a city should progress not only physically but mentally as well. (Hear, Hear). That institution had the support of the Council, and behind that was the support of right-thinking citizens, without whose splendid efforts they would not have been able to complete the work that day. The Observatory would serve some future generations, and show them how cultured and aesthetic the citizens of the present time were.
Cr. W. J. Richards unveiled an ornamental window int eh building, the gift of Messrs Brooks, Robinson, and Co., and referring to the elevating thoughts suggested by the study of astronomy said anyone could look through the telescope at the stars and they all came by chance was in the unfortunate position of being mentally deficient.
A stained glass window, the gift of “The Courier”, in the building in which the big reflector is housed, was next unveiled.
Mr. Norman Clark, in performing the ceremony, said great credit was due to Mr. Brittain for the work he had put in there. “The Courier” had done a little share in beautifying that place, and he would like to see lots of other people do the same, because there was lots of work to be done there yet. (Hear, hear).
Mr. Clark said “The Courier” was always willing to do anything in the interests of Ballarat. It had been a great pleasure to Mrs. Clark to donate that window, and he hope that gathering would induce people to se there was still room for improvement there.
An adjournment was then made to the lecture room, where several windows were unveiled.
Mayor Hollwas, in unveiling a window given by the City Council, said the Observatory was a lesson to the people of Victoria, and without a man like John Brittain he did not think they would ever have had one there. Mr. Brittain had had good support, first from the late Mr. James Oddie, and afterwards from others, such as Messrs Jelbart Bros.
Mr. W. J. K. Dunstan, president of the Methodist Local Preachers’ Association, unveiled a window the gift of that body, and showing Christian symbols. He said the gift form the Association was particularly fitting, because no fewer than four members of the Jelbart family were local preachers. The members of the Association were glad to add their little gift to the persist of science and as a compliment to their friend and brother, Mr. John Brittain.
Cr. A. Levy, on behalf of the donors, Mr. and Mrs. Kenny, unveiled a window showing the shield of David. He said tat Mr. and Mrs. Kenny at the Orphanage and Mr. Brittain at the Observatory were doing excellent work, and could not be surpassed.
A window presented by the Oddfellows, and bearing symbols of the Order, was unveiled by Mr Geo. W. King, Dist. Del. G.M.
Mr J. Ashley, P.J.G.W., unveiled a window, the gift of the freemasons, and bearing Masonic symbols. Many of the symbols, he said, were derived from astronomy. Mr Brittain was an enthusiastic member of the Masonic fraternity, and a member of the lodge they would naturally epect an astronomer to belong to – the Orion. The Town Council deserved a considerable amount of credit for the encouragement they had given to him, and the citizens were at one with the Council in their efforts.
A window, the gift of Messrs Titheridge and Growcott, was unveiled by Mayor Mackenzie.
Mayor Mackenzie then presented Mr Brittain with a commemorative medal of his own design, showing Sirius, in the Orion constellation, Saturn and its rings, and the crescent, and the words, “He made the stars also.”
Mr Brittain, in reply, said that was the red letter day of his life, and he appreciated the compliment to himself. He was a citizen not only of Ballarat East but of Ballarat, and he was proud to be recognised as a citizen of no mean city. He was grateful for their recognition of the work he had done and to the Town Council for the kindly practical interest they had always manifested in the welfare of the Observatory. Astronomy was the oldest of the physical sciences, and in contemplating the progress from the science of astronomy they realised how nonsense of astrology to the perfect knowledge grew, and looked forward with greater amplitude of vision to the more glorious days of knowledge still to come. They saw also how the old materialistic view of the universe had gone, and everywhere men were recognising the existence of an intellectual element in nature. Call it whatever name they might, as part of their creed they were compelled to believe in the moral elect which underlay all the physical, and humbly and reverently confess “I believe in God the Father Almighty.” He hoped to be spared for some years to continue the work just begun at the Observatory, and to establish in their midst, a modern observatory. He thanked Messrs Jelbart Bros. for their gift. He had found them not only patrons of science but personal friends.
Afternoon tea was served in the lecture room, and a programme of toasts was gone through.
After “The King” had been proposed by Mayor Mackenzie and duly honoured, Mr J. Ashley proposed “Parliament”. The member for Ballarat East, he said, had represented the constituency with conspicuous ability for a considerable number of years, and no one yet had been able to put him out.
The Hon. R. McGregor, in response, said Ballarat more than any other centre owed a great deal to its public men. Mr Brittain was an educationist of the very highest order, who devoted his time, talents, energy and power in a cultured, intelligent and refined way to doing the best he could to enlighten the people of Ballarat. Continuing, he said that our men had just come back from fighting for freedom to find an oligarchy controlling the affairs of this State and Commonwealth. It was a shame that anybody of men could try to bludgeon to the people of this State into submission to the immoral doctrine that might was right, “that he may take who has the power, and he may keep who can.” (A Voice: “That is a scotch motto.”). At one time it was, but they had very much improved on that since. (Laughter).
The Rev. T.H. Indian proposed “Municipalities.” He said he would like to pay a tribute to Mr Brittain as a man and as a scholar, a credit not only to Ballarat but to Victoria, and a man upon whom some foreign astronomical societies had deemed it their duty to confer their orders of merit. Mr Brittain and his fellows were trying to lift the fogs and mists that blinded our natural vision. Astronomers tried to unite several parts of the heavens into one great system and our local parliaments might imitate them. he looked forward to a day not far distant when they would assemble for a greater occasion ,and instead of two mayors there would be one. (hear, hear). Councillors should recognise that they were the custodians of the interests not only of East or West, but of the great united community of Greater Ballarat. (Hear, hear).
Mayor Mackenzie, in reply, said he believed in amalgamation, and advocated it before he became a member of the council, and he believed the time was not far distant when we would have it.
Mr F.J. Martell proposed “Messrs Jelbart Bros.”. He said the establishment of the Observatory was the result of a suggestion he made at the School of Mines Council in 1882, that in order to popularise the school a course of popular lectures should be given. On 16th August, 1882, Mr Thomas gave a lecture on the stellar universe, and said that all he had described could be sen with a telescope costing pd 6/5/. Mr James Oddie proposed that a company should be formed by the boys at 3d per share to procure such a telescope. This was done, and the telescope was still in the Observatory. Mr Oddie subsequently procured a larger telescope and as the school grounds were not suitable for its use got a Government grant of tree acres at Mount Pleasant for an Observatory. Mr Martell added that Mr Brittain was not only an astronomer but also an ardent student of microscopy and photography.
Messrs. Jelbart Brothers and Mr Jelbart senior, responded.
Songs were sung during the afternoon by Mr Fullerton and Miss Grace Lamont.