Honorary Membership

An honorary membership was bestowed upon Barry Chuter at the AGM of 1st October 2016 – For longstanding membership and committee work lately as Curator of Instruments.

Biographical notes taken by Phillip Aubrey in conversation with Barry Chuter on Saturday 27 August 2016.

Barry Chuter.

Barry, then aged 24, and his father George joined the EAS in late 1964. The membership at that time stood at about twenty. Barry was co-opted onto the committee and made responsible for the library and as custodian of instruments which comprised 4 telescopes viz. a 4½ inch refractor, a 8 x 50 ex-military telescope, a Japanese Tasco 60 mm refractor and miscellaneous equipment. [Editors Note: Records show Barry was initially on the committee as Librarian and Sub-Editor, his father George was Curator of Instruments – whom he undoubtably helped!]

The Secretary was Mr Tutt (the father of the current Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council) and the library comprised of a 16” x 16” cardboard box with elementary astronomical books such as, “How to construct a telescope” etc. Committee meetings were held in Mr Tutt’s house in Ringwood Road. The committee members were Mr Tutt, Ollie, Ann Turton, Barry and ? . Lecture meetings took place in the meeting room under the Eastbourne Library. Barry remained a member until 1967 when the EAS went into hibernation. Barry then got married and joined the Royal Signals Regiment which demanded all his time.

Then in 1995 Barry saw an advertisement in Astronomy Now offering a 4 ½ inch refractor for sale in Eastbourne, but on ringing the number it was a phone box outside the Grand Hotel. Later, Barry went along to the society’s then meeting place, St. Aidan’s Church Hall in Whitley Road, and met David Godfrey who said he knew of the man selling the telescope and thought he was “a bit of a dodgy character”. Barry re-joined EAS in July 1998 and in 1999 he joined the committee in charge of instruments and their repair. In a grazing occultation timing experiment, he used his technical expertise as a telephone engineer to connect two widely separated telescopes by telephone cable to synchronise the timing with the “Rugby Atomic Clock Time signal”. The respective observers could then deduce the time interval and the exact length of time of the occultation.

EAS observing then took place at the Pevensey Recreation Ground and the “twins” (Ken Lamb and John Crysell) made the tea. When they eventually gave up this function, Barry took on the task and continued to do so until 2016. He also negotiated the use of the Willingdon Memorial Hall and the Arlington Village Hall for the EAS.

Barry has not only housed much of the EAS’ equipment but maintained and repaired it over the years and at times the number of instruments exceeded the capacity of Barry’s garage. Surplus equipment has been sold and more advanced telescopes and accessories purchased. In particular, he was responsible for sorting the large collection of telescopes left to the Society by John Jeffrey into those for our retention and use and those for dipsosal.

The reconfiguration of the 12” Dobsonian is a formidable task as parts have to be custom made as do items for other telescopes in our possession; Barry skilfully makes many of these parts saving expensive purchases. For example he repaired the “speakers” microphone the replacement of which would have cost £100. His constant maintenance and refurbishment of EAS equipment over the years has enabled us to function at all times as an observing society with effective instruments.

Barry and Jennifer as well as their son and granddaughter are relocating to Somerset in the near future where he will be able to enjoy darker skies. He is already contemplating starting an astro soc affiliated to his beloved EAS.