The Lovell Telescope chosen in top 200 influential projects | Knutsford Times

The Lovell Telescope chosen in top 200 influential projects

By on October 3, 2018

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has announced that the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank is one of its top 200 influential people and projects that illustrate how civil engineering shapes the world and helps transforms people’s lives.

To mark the ICE’s 200th anniversary, and to support Government’s Year of Engineering, the Institution is highlighting 200 inspirational and world-changing projects from around the world throughout 2018. Nominated by the ICE’s members and selected by an expert panel, the chosen projects illustrate the breadth and depth of civil engineering’s impact.

The pioneering Lovell telescope has played a key role in transforming our knowledge of the universe, from the discovery of quasars and the investigation of pulsars and the principle of the warping of space.

When completed in 1957, at a cost of £750,000, it weighed in at 3,200 tonnes and was the world’s largest steerable dish radio, capable of pointing at any part of the sky. The telescope was so heavy it required gun turret motors from World War Two battleships HMS Revenge and HMS Royal Sovereign to power its tilting mechanism.

Originally known as the Mark 1 telescope, its first vital contribution was to track the Soviet Sputnik 1 satellite.

The enormity of the engineering project, spearheaded by Sir Bernard Lovell, is reflected by the fact that six decades on, it remains the planet’s third largest steerable telescope and an iconic feature of the Cheshire landscape.

The telescope has also entered popular culture with television appearances including Dr Who, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Coronation Street. It has featured in music videos for D: Ream, Placebo, Public Service Broadcasting and The Electric Light Orchestra.

Emma Antrobus, Director of ICE North West, said: “The Lovell Telescope is an outstanding example of British ingenuity and innovation and a brilliant feat of engineering. It is a shining example of how important civil engineering is, and how it transforms people’s lives.

“We know that many adults and young people don’t know what a civil engineer does and can’t identify a single UK civil engineering project. We are challenging this and aim to change these perceptions by showcasing projects such as this.”

Mike Garrett, Director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics and Sir Bernard Lovell Chair of Astrophysics at The University of Manchester, said: “The Lovell Telescope is one of the UK’s most iconic and best recognised scientific landmarks.

“The telescope is currently undergoing a major structural upgrade which will ensure that it remains at the forefront of fundamental research for many years to come.”

It continues to make an important contribution to future astronomical research, forming part of the UK’s e-MERLIN and European VLBI Network arrays – a network of stations combining to form one powerful telescope. It also monitors electromagnetic radiation for signs of extra-terrestrial life.

The Lovell Telescope joins the 200 projects which will be published throughout the year on the What Is Civil Engineering? pages of the ICE website alongside career guidance This platform has been designed to help promote the career of civil engineering after it was revealed that only 45% of adults know what the career entails and only 35% of young people could tell you what a civil engineer does.

About Lucy Thorpe

Lucy Thorpe is a freelance journalist who writes for the Knutsford Times - covering stories and news in and around Cheshire and Greater Manchester. If you've got a story to share, or would like to speak to Lucy, please email

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