I have seen these famous clocks in the past, before I had read “Longitude”. But now, knowing how incredibly important it was to have an accurate marine chronometer, and knowing the story of how a carpenter, John Harrison, invented, developed, and made the world’s first accurate marine chronometers in the early eighteenth century, I could not miss the opportunity to revisit the Royal Greenwich Observatory, on my visit to Greenwich.
Amazingly, 3 of the 4 clocks are still working accurately. I am not sure why the final, wonderful, Harrison 4 is not working. That is the clock which finally made Harrison a wealthy person.
The board which was determining whether his chronometer (number 4) was worthy, dallied and prevaricated to avoid paying Harrison the 20,000 pound prize. Fortunately, King George 2 intervened and took up Harrison’s cause, and eventually he was paid a total of 23,000 pounds, which made him the equivalent of a modern multi millionaire.
His Harrison 4 kept time on a moving, rocking ship, within 1 minute in 90 days, which was a quantum leap in accuracy, and resulted in vastly more accurate navigation, and saving sailors lives.
“Longitude” is an excellent read. And seeing these timepieces in reality, was an experience which I will not forget.