Greenwich Royal Observatory
Before 1833 the only secure way to set the accurate time was to bring your watch to Greenwich and set it. This was such an important function that one family, the Belvilles, set up a weekly service carrying Greenwich time to paying clients in London. Today lots of visitors come to Greenwich to see the Prime Meridian and the Harrison clocks as well as all the other wonderful sights. I’ve lived in Greenwich most of my adult life and never tire of it, however, you can take things and places for granted but not the Harrison clocks.

John Harrison
The clocks are in Flamsteed House and there is a charge of £7 to visit. The exhibition makes very good use of contemporaneous paintings and multi media to explain the problems in not having an accurate means of measuring latitude. In response to the competition of 1714 to solve the longitude problem John Harrison, a carpenter by trade, set about making his timepieces. Looking at the precision engineering of the clocks it is remarkable to learn that Harrison was a self taught clock maker. There is a portrait of Harrison dated 1766 holding the H4 clock. This along with the clocks themselves leaves you wondering about the determination, perseverance and ingenuity of this man.

Harrison Clock
Harrison first got involved in the latitude competition in 1726 and the H4 was completed in 1759. The H1 tool 5 years to complete but was not accurate enough. The H3 took 19 years and has over 700 precisely engineered parts. Over time the clocks fell into a state of disrepair. They were rediscovered after the First World War by a retired naval officer Rupert T Gould. Gould spent many years repairing and restoring the clocks. He too must have been a man of great determination and perseverance.

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