1958 - Captain Tony Bomford with Tavistock Theodolite

Courtesy Bob Skitch (Lieutenant Colonel - Retired)


The above photograph shows then Captain Anthony Gerald Tony Bomford of the Royal Engineers on exchange with the Topographic Squadron of AHQ Survey Regiment, Royal Australian Survey Corps on the first order traverse between Charters Towers and Tennant Creek.


Captain Bomford is seen here inspecting the 5˝ inch Tavistock or the Big Jigger as it was called; he was not one of the observers on this traverse but he did the ranging calculations for the positioning of Bilby observation towers. Then Corporal Robert Bob Skitch was a booker on the traverse.


The Tavistock geodetic theodolites were made in England by Messrs Cooke, Troughton and Simms of London and York. These theodolites were built to specifications drawn up from a meeting of British instrument makers and surveyors at Tavistock (Devon) in 1926. Above the observing telescope of the pictured theodolite, and at right angles to it, is a striding level. This highly accurate spirit level is used for measuring the tilt of the vertical or trunnion axis especially during astronomical observations.


Tony Bomford (1927-2003) joined the Division of National Mapping in 1961 and was the Director of National Mapping from 1977 until his retirement in 1982.


In his circa 1969 paper, First Order Angular Control, HA Bill Johnson then Supervising Surveyor, of National Mapping’s Geodetic Survey Branch recalled:…I have never lost my affection for the 3˝" and 5˝" Tavistocks, especially the first 5˝" Tavistocks of 65 lbs [around 26 kilograms – Ed], the scars of carrying which (prior to the advent in Australia of the Yukon pack) I possess today. Most of my own personal geodetic angular measurements…were done on two of these 5˝" Geodetic Tavistocks…. It appeared a stable astronomical instrument, with a good, adjustable length striding level, and was quickly and closely adjusted in both vertical and horizontal collimation.