An astronomical society has flourished in Hull since the 1920’s when it formed part of the Hull Literary and Philosophical Society. The advent of the Second World War brought about its demise. It was reborn in 1953 as the Hull and East Riding Astronomical Society and utilised a small observatory in Kingston High School under the patronage of the founder Dr Cameron Walker.
The observatory was built through the efforts of Dr Walker and the families of the pupils of Kingston High School. People donated bricks and various building materials and labour. The British Astronomical Society lent the society two telescopes, a three-inch Cooke refractor and a five-inch refractor.
Dr Cameron Walker retired as Headmaster around 1960/61. Eventually the observatory was closed for repairs but was reopened by Mrs Cameron Walker in June 1979. Dr Walker had died in October 1978 aged 82.
The observatory was finally closed less than three years later due to problems with vandalism. At one point the school hall was set on fire. Sadly it was the end of an era.
During the first 30 years of HERAS many activities and meetings took place. Regular meetings were held and one lecturer in the late 1950’s was Patrick Moore before he was famous. The society met at various venues, firstly at Kingston High School, then at the Technical College in Queens Gardens then at the YPI in George Street and then on Chanterlands Avenue North and then at Wyke College before returning to Hull University. After a brief spell at the Endsleigh centre, we moved to the Hull and East Riding Sports Club in 2015 where the Society now meets from September to June.
During the sixties and seventies the Society produced an excellent newsletter/magazine called ‘The Asteroid’. ‘The Asteroid’ contained details of the HERAS meetings and any astronomy related trips the members had been on and details of what could be seen in the night sky.
We would like to thank Nichalai Swetez and Peter Jennings for their help with this article.