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Film fame for ICE telescope

An antique brass telescope which was awarded to ICE member James Henry Apjohn in 1884 and then went on to feature as a prop in Back to the Future III, has been sold at auction for nearly £2,000.

Engravings on the side of the telescope show it was Apjohn’s prize for winning the ICE’s ‘Telford Premium’ award for his paper on ‘The area of sluice-opening necessary for the supply-sluice of a tidal canal’.

It is not known how the telescope came onto the set of the movie blockbuster.

In the film it was given as a gift by Clara Clayton to Dr. Emmett Brown, or “Doc” - and is visible in the scene when Clara brings it to Doc to be repaired.

The telescope measures 34 ½ inches long and features a focus knob on the right side and two mounting screws for tripod attachment below. The auction site commented that it was in “quite remarkable condition for its age”.

James Henry Apjohn’s great-great granddaughter Nicola Johnson made the discovery and alerted ICE’s archivist whom she had previously approached seeking information about her relative.

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