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Grubb Parsons Papers, 1857 - 1982, bulk: 1920 - 1982

Reference Code: GBR/0180/RGO 113

Scope and Contents

The Grubb Parsons Papers include papers on instrumentation for observatories, company publications, and items relating to the history of the company, including two personal albums by former employees.

Series 1 is comprised of instrumentation papers. They include an article by Sir Howard Grubb Parsons and Company on the 36 Inch Reflecting Telescope for the Royal Observatory, Greenwich; a technical drawing and report on the 74” reflector built for the Radcliffe Observatory, Pretoria; and brochures, slides and a press pack on the Isaac Newton Telescope.

Series 2 is comprised of publications relating to the firm, including scientific papers published by Thomas Grubb, Sir Howard Grubb, and Sir Charles Parsons; a set of trade catalogues highlighting new developments in optical glass and astronomical and optical instruments; and copies of the Heaton Works Journal of C.A. Parsons and Co.

Series 3 relates to the history of Grubb Parsons. It includes a printed history by G.E. Manville, General Manager at Sir Howard Grubb, Parsons and Co. Ltd; a notice of a memorial window to Sir Charles A. Parson; and an album containing a typed history of Grubb Parsons with accompanying black and white photographs, compiled by a former employee there.

Series 4 is comprised of historical material compiled by Tom Broadbent, who worked for Charles Parsons at Heaton Works and later as Chief Draughtsman at Grubb Parsons. The series contains Broadbent's personal photographs and papers recording his work for Grubb Parsons at the Observatory of Pop Ivan, Poland, and on the photographic zenith tube (PZT) at Neuchatel, Switzerland. It includes a career scrapbooks, photographs and letters.


  • Creation: 1857 - 1982
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1920 - 1982


Conditions Governing Access

From the Management Group:

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

Sir Howard Grubb, Parsons and Co. Ltd (widely known as ‘Grubb Parsons’) was an historic manufacturer of telescopes. Founded by Thomas Grubb in Dublin in 1833, the company was bought by Charles Algernon Parsons in 1925 and moved to Newcastle upon Tyne. They produced many large research telescopes for the ROG and other observatories, including the (Yapp) 36 Inch Reflecting Telescope, the Isaac Newton Telescope, the 74 Inch telescope for the Radcliffe Observatory, Pretoria, and the William Herschel Telescope at La Palma.


4 archive box(es) : Paper; photographs; slides

Related Materials

The official papers of Grubb Parsons Ltd are held at Tyne and Wear Archives, Newcastle.

Processing Information

Catalogued by Dr Emma Saunders, July 2023.

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom