Alfred B Biggs Observatory memorial
Public Art : Alfred B Biggs Observatory memorial
(also known as the Observatory memorial or the A. B. Biggs Memorial)
Sculptor : Not applicable
Description: A bronze plaque on a granite plinth in
honor of astronomer, teacher and inventor Alfred Barrett Biggs (10th April, 1825- 19th December,1900)
Date Unveiled: 18th of September, 1935.
Location: The memorial is located at Royal Park on
the site of the old observatory, Launceston, Tasmania.
Lat.41 26' 1' S.
Long. 147 7' 49.5' E.
Site of the Observatory of
Erected by the
Royal Society of Tasmania
18th Sept, 1935
Background of Alfred Barrett Biggs: Alfred Barrett Biggs was born
in London but at the age of 8 moved with his family to Van Diemen's Land. He started his career working
in the Commercial Bank of Tasmania before traveling to Melbourne to become a teacher. He later returned to
Tasmania in 1864 to teach in Bothwell and then in Campbell Town. During this time he formed a friendship with Dr
William Valentine, who also shared the love of science and astronomy. In 1874, Valentine invited a group of leading
US astronomers to view the rare transit of Venus from his home in Campbell Town on the 9th of December. As a thank
you to Biggs for assisting them, the astronomers gave him the building they had used in making their observations.
Inspired, Biggs later built two observatories in Launceston, one in the back of his brother-in laws house in
Park Lane (near the foreshore of the Esk River) and the other on the Depot Ground, now known as Royal Park.
The observatory at Royal park had a revolving roof. Biggs made an observatory clock which was driven by a
Biggs is believed to have set up and made the first telephone call in Australia around 1876,after
reading about the invention of the telephone in the science magazine "The English Mechanic". He constructed
two telephones from a diagram and description in the mag. He then connected the leads from one of the phones
to the terminals of the Morse telegraph station in Campbell Town and the other to the station in Launceston. Once
connected he rubbed a pencil over the Campbell Town speakers microphone and viola, the sound could be heard
through the phone in Launceston.
During his lifetime Biggs created; lenses for telescopes, a 6ft water driven observatory clock , micrometers to
measure angular separation, a coin tester (to detect counterfeit coins), a high powered microscope, a
seismometer. Biggs' grandson claims Biggs also invented the term "earth tremors" during his study of