Sir Patrick Moore memorial observatory plan dropped

Residents pleased the Observatory won't be built on Oval Field. Picture by Kate Shemilt
Residents pleased the Observatory won't be built on Oval Field. Picture by Kate Shemilt

MIXED emotions greeted news an observatory in memory of Sir Patrick Moore would no longer be built.

Had it gone ahead, the tribute to the celebrated Selsey astronomer could have been constructed on the Oval Field at the southern-most tip of the town.

Sir Patrick Moore, picture by Malcolm Wells

Sir Patrick Moore, picture by Malcolm Wells

However, a feasibility study from the Selsey Coastal Trust found the proposed small observatory – with telescopes for stargazing, a cafe and toilets – would not have brought in the money necessary to make it a viable option.

Speaking of the type of memorial Selsey could create to one of its most famous residents, town council chairman Mike Beal said: “My view on this is that the last thing Sir Patrick Moore would have wanted was a statue or a plaque, because that’s not doing anything.

“He was a man that did stuff, which is why the coastal trust was looking at the observatory.

“It was an active memorial and not something passive.”

The challenge now is for Selsey to come up with a fitting memorial to Sir Patrick

Mike Beal, Selsey Town Council chairman

The astronomer died at the age of 89 in December, 2012, after living in the town for many years.

The Selsey Coastal Trust exists to help fund sea-defence repairs and it was hoped an observatory would be a good way of raising income to help fund sea-defence projects.

Reacting to news the observatory would not be built in part of the field, leader of the HOOF campaign (Hands Off Oval Field) Lesley Bromley said: “HOOF will remain vigilant to protect the Oval Field from future development and will continue to support strongly the application for the field to become a village green.”

No planning application had been made on the field, which is owned by Selsey Town Council.

It allowed the Selsey Coastal Trust to carry out a feasibility study on the observatory, but the report came back to last Wednesday’s town council meeting saying it would not be feasible.

“The challenge now is for Selsey to come up with a fitting memorial to Sir Patrick,” said Cllr Beal.

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