The Heart of England A.S began life in 1972 as the Chelmsley Astronomical Society. Meetings were held during the last Thursday of the month at Chelmsley Library (Solihull), and a small run-off roof observatory was built in the grounds of Coleshill Hall Hospital (about 3 miles NE of Chelmsley Wood) which housed an optically superb 6 inch reflector (see below). Gradually the idea of building a larger meeting room/observatory became a realisation as members donated their time on weekends to the construction of a small meeting room with adjoining 10ft diameter dome. Once the meeting room was completed, meetings began to be held every Thursday evening throughout the year, with formal meetings (invited speakers etc.) continuing at the Library. A large 17.5 inch reflector was also being constructed at this time, to complement the societies existing 6 & 8 inch reflectors.
Bad luck struck in 1987 however with the news that the Hospital and adjoining land was being sold for re-development, and we would have to move out. Our meeting room and observatory were doomed. The dome was sold to Derwent A.S and the meeting room was abandoned.
Fortunately several of our members worked for British Telecom, and a dissused telephone exchange situated in the village of Furnace End was offered to our club by BiRTASS - the Sports & Social group of BT. This proved to be an empty shell of a building some 3 miles east of the hospital grounds, but situated in a quiet rural site with dark skies. The offer was taken up, and once again weekends were given up by members to work on the building. In 1988, the Chelmsley A.S was re-named the Heart of England A.S - as we were now situated only a few miles from the center of England - and with our new premesis looked forward to an exciting future.
Formal end of the month meetings were stopped at Chelmsley Library once the BT rooms were completed. All meetings would now be held at the 'Old Exchange' meeting rooms including the more informal "get-together's" each Thursday throughout the year. Because the land we now meet upon is private, we were unable to construct a permanent observatory. The 17.5 inch telescope was therefore scrapped, and several portable telescopes have been aquired.
The meeting room and observatory