Burnham Town Council has supported a concept generated by local resident Nick Skeens over a decade ago to create a type of observatory in Burnham.

Inspired by ancient observatories, the simple concept is to celebrate Burnham’s spectacular sunsets, which are at their best in spring, autumn and winter.

The idea is to create a blunt, serrated rule, or protractor on the outer edge of a stainless steel plate (illustrated above), in between the individual teeth of which you can watch the sun set -the sun setting in a different gap each day. This would be mounted on the existing railings at Sunset Point – which terminates West Quay at the entrance to the Marina.

The Burnham Observatory would also include information boards explaining how you can tell if the tide is coming in, what makes the tides work, how Earth’s orbit and tilt affect the seasons and other astronomical and maritime information.

For more on the concept, click on the PDF below.

Note that the writing and the illustrations are for guidance only, in draft form. A professional designer will be able to make the information boards work well, as long as they work closely with the writer.

Costings & Draft brief.3.Sep 2018


The Burnham Observatory Working Group

Maldon District Council originally allocated £20k towards this project.

This was amount set aside for a public competition to create a tourist attraction for this amount. Contenders included a giant sculpture of a Martian machine from H G Wells’ War of the Worlds (which mentions the machines crossing the Crouch and pacing on towards Tillingham) and a Woodland Sculpture Yrail.

Burnham Town Council considered the Martian machine a great idea but far too expensive. BTC liked the Sculpture Trail but felt a) it lacked an available woodland and b) sculpture trails were common across the country. The Observatory idea was praised for its originality and relevance to Burnham’s maritime setting. The town council put its support behind the idea and informed MDC in October 2018.

But in 2019 MDC, which favoured the Sculpture Trail, decided to cut the promised budget from £20K to £12k.

The Burnham Observatory Working Group is designed to study if something similar can be done cheaper, and, if not, work to persuade MDC to put the budget it had promised back in the Burnham pot.

The Councillors on the working group are Fiona Clegg, Jane English and Nick Skeens.