THE observatory at Stonyhurst College was first established in 1838 - 44 years after the school opened in the Ribble Valley.

It was once one of seven important weather stations in the country and the temperature records, taken there from 1846, are the oldest continuous daily records in the world.

It was also chosen as a main station, when a magnetic survey of Britain was conducted in 1858.

Another observatory was built in 1866 and during that century it was maintained by astronomer priests, whose research included astronomy, magnetism and seismology.

This image is dated from 1937 and shows Father J P Rowland, who had been on the staff since 1919, keeping records in meteorology, as well as making systematic observations of the sun and other astronomical phenomena through a giant 17ft telescope.

The observatory later fell out of use and this telescope, parts of which dated back to the observatory's first days in the 1860s was sold after the Second World War.

But the college bought it back and restored it to its original home.

The observatory is once again used for astronomical purposes again and is one of four weather stations used by the Met Office to provide temperature data for central England.