End of an Era
Monday, 30 October 2017 | Neil Parker
On 31st October 2017 I'm going to hang up not just my hat, but also my telescopes and binoculars, and retire and close Green Witch on the 19th anniversary of our opening. We'll have a stock clearance sale throughout November and you'll be able to find some good bargains on our web site.
I started Green Witch with my work colleague from the Royal Greenwich Observatory, Lesley Vertue, who many of you will remember. It was just intended to be a sideline for Lesley but quickly grew to take all her time and progressively more of mine. The business grew and at one time we employed eight people. We operated from a small industrial unit at Dry Drayton, moved to a bigger one and at one time took on a second for extra storage. Latterly, we moved Green Witch to my home.
We had contemplated opening a northern branch for some time and the end of the recession coincided with Lee's getting married to Sue who lived in Gildersome in West Yorkshire. Sue found a small shop in Birstall, only a couple of miles from her home and we opened Green Witch North which Lee ran. It was well received and has become a favourite with its many regulars.
What were the highlights of this period? Helping schools to design and build their observatories, including one in Dubai which involved an on site recce. Helping universities with their observatories, perhaps the most significant being the 0.7m telescope for the University of Central Lancashire which we proposed and supplied. Astroblast and the Storm Troopers. Flying to Sharm El Sheikh by private jet to advise on an ambitious astronomy project in Saudi Arabia. Buying four acres of land in Arizona and building a holiday home for astronomers. The astronomy events such as the transit of Venus breakfast and the many star parties we've hosted or attended. The courses we've run. Meeting Terry Pratchett when he bought his telescope from us (which I'm now servicing for Lady Pratchett). The list is endless but it brings back fond memories as I try to recall them all.
But all good things come to an end and I'm retiring from the astronomy business. Although I'm past retirement age I don't intend to retire completely and shall continue with the engineering consultancy work I've been doing alongside Green Witch but the VAT returns will be much simpler.....
I've enjoyed running Green Witch. It wasn't something I'd ever thought of doing and happened more or less by accident after I'd finished my first career in research astronomy. It gave me an insight to the world of retail which is very different to my previous job. I've met some wonderful people along the way and made some very good friends. The house in Arizona which I've rented to nature and astronomy enthusiasts arose from Green Witch and I've enjoyed many trips back to my old stomping grounds to what used to be called the capital of world astronomy. The Green Witch house is still available to rent; details at www.arizonaskyvillage.co.uk
Lee will continue working in astronomy on a variety of his own (ad)ventures and projects and will also be joining the Altair Astro team in January 2018.
Thank you for your support over the years; we shall miss you all.
2017 October 31