AN iconic Cheshire landmark has been featured on the BBC this week after Michael Portillo paid a visit for the Great British Railway Journeys programme.

The BBC Two show follows the former politician as he travels across the country on different train routes.

And in this latest series, as Michael travelled from Liverpool to Uttoxeter, he made a diversion at Crewe and headed to Goostrey to visit the Jodrell Bank Observatory.

Having seen the famous Lovell Telescope from a distance, Michael was able to get a true sense of the structure's scale during his visit.

Speaking on the show, he said: "I’ve often glimpsed this awesome structure, as I’ve sped past it on a train. Today, I’ve alighted for a close encounter.

“That has brought it home to me completely."

Knutsford Guardian: The train heading towards GoostreyThe train heading towards Goostrey (Image: BBC)

During his visit to the observatory, he also spoke to Tim O’Brien, a professor of astrophysics and the associate director of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics.

Professor O’Brien discussed how the satellites at Jodrell Bank were used in spying on the Soviet Union during the 'Space Race'.

The telescope was the biggest in the world when it was finished in 1957, and is today still the third largest.

Knutsford Guardian: Professor Tim O'BrienProfessor Tim O'Brien (Image: BBC)

Michael added: "Horrified that the West would become vulnerable to attack from space, the British government stepped in to finish the telescope at top speed."

Professor O'Brien said: “If you can imagine the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben clock tower standing there, it's within about a metre of the same height of the spike of Big Ben clock tower.

“It turned out to be one of the best instruments in the world for studying the early American and Soviet missions.

"In fact, we spied on the Soviet Union, it's not been well known, it's been a secret until quite recently actually.

“The Lovell Telescope is actually more powerful than it's ever been."

Knutsford Guardian: Host Michael PortilloHost Michael Portillo (Image: BBC)

The observatory was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2019 in recognition of its internationally significant science, heritage and cultural impact.

The Jodrell Bank Observatory was featured in episode 11 of series 15 of Great British Railway Journeys, which aired on BBC Two on April 1 at 6.30pm and is still available on BBC iPlayer.