>Through A Glass Darkly

Westward Ho!, Devon
Along with discarded chicken boxes, vintage scooters, and Fiat Cinquecenti, I am unable to pass a seaside telescope without photographing it. Rusty, crusty one-eyed sentries looking out to sea, no matter what the weather. There all seem to be be made by small regional factories – the most prolific being the mysterious Roland Telescopes of Robin Hoods Bay of which barely a trace can be found on’t internet. Although today 20p will get you a slightly blurred view of a dredging boat, these ‘scopes are the descendents of ones set up to give cheeky Edwardian chaps a view of ladies emerging from bathing machines. Ding dong!


About teninchwheels

Designer, photographer and Vespa-fixated pub bore. Born in Yorkshire, living in that London these past 20 years. Get in touch at teninchwheels@gmail.com, especially if you'd like to send me some free beer.
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6 Responses to >Through A Glass Darkly

  1. Affer says:

    >They ARE nice! I really like the third one (from the top); I seem to recall one like that on Beachy Head, albeit painted Battleship Grey. It was a penny (that was when pennies were worth something of course) and I would stare through it hoping to see France. I don’t ever remember succeeding as too often the lenses were scratched or smeared, and I could never get the focus right!

  2. >You can focus them? I never knew!

  3. Affer says:

    >Perhaps they didn’t….perhaps it’s my dementia creeping in! But I am sure they had a twiddly eye-piece thingy…….

  4. ally. says:

    >right on brotherxalthough to be honest i have terrible problems with anything binoculary – i just see binocular somehow. and anyway the view looks so much better with a one of these in it

  5. Julian says:

    I did some of my own research about the mysterious telescopes as I had seen them on top of the rock of Gibraltar – this is what I got back…

    Re Roland Telescopes

    Dear Julian,
    Many thanks for your letter December 2011 enquiring about Roland Telescopes which brought back memories of a pleasant business of which I outline a brief history for your perusal.
    Our first telescope was an old German Graphoscope sited on the Quarterdeck at Robin Hoods Bay in 1982.
    Quite excited by the experience of the first telescope we acquired half a dozen more old Sampson (London) and Graphoscope (Munchen) telescopes and sited at Bank Top Robin Hoods Bay and Whitby in 1983.
    In 1984 we purchased 50 old Discopar telescopes (Austrian) from the leisure division of Trust House Forte and sited these at Scarborough, Heathrow Airport and Devon.
    In 1985 we manufacture a 200 batch of our own telescopes (binocular) and sited these at coastal resorts, airports and castles.
    The next few years saw an annual production of 200 telescopes (monocular) of differing designs and siting’s at some of the best view point.
    The business was a lot of fun and it got us to visit many beautiful locations. Sadly in the mid 90’s the Government decided that they wanted the lion share of the income so the business was sold off into several geographical areas.
    Most of these areas are still being operated by others under new names although some new owners have kept and operate under the Roland Telescope name.
    I thank you for reminding me of what was an exciting time and I hope that this brief history satisfies your curiosity.
    Best regards

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