Greenwich is an outer borough/suburb of London. It’s also at the center of the world, longitudinally speaking at least. You’ve definitely heard of it before; every time someone says “Greenwich Mean Time,” this is the Greenwich they’re talking about. It’s also where the Prime Meridian passes through, separating the Western and Eastern Hemispheres of the world. So, it’s quite an important part of the world.
It also has a fascinating museum ship: the Cutty Sark. A British clipper ship which set multiple speed records just as the Age of Sail came to an end. The ship suffered a horrible fire just a few years ago, but it has been wonderfully restored. You can even walk under it’s hull. I’ve heard that’s pretty controversial, but I found it to give a unique perspective.
After I hit the Cutty Sark, then it was up the hill to the Royal Observatory. As you can imagine, time was the big theme. Clocks, maps, and observing equipment were regular sights. I even got to see the original H4, which was the first reliable clock to be used at sea to measure longitudes. There were even more clocks, from as early as mid-1600s, the very dawn of clock-making.
The thing I waited around for was the dropping of the red Time Ball to signal 1pm Thames River Time. This has been how the seamen of the Thames have set their clocks since 1833. The ball is raised to half staff at 12:55pm, and then to full staff at 12:58pm. At 1pm, the ball drops and that signals the time to the men on the river to set their clocks/watches. It’s hard to imagine nowadays worrying about this, but going back over a century, reliable time prediction was vital at sea.
After that, it was waiting in line to stand on the Prime Meridian. Not much to say, other than the picture below does show a number of cities I’ve been to around the world, along with their longitude. My home town of DC is on there, at 77 degrees West!
And after that, it was time for lunch! And a really good pint of ale: a Sharp’s Brewery Doombar. Oh so good! I’d earned it…didn’t I mention I’d crossed from the Eastern Hemisphere to the Western Hemisphere, and back again, at least twenty times? It was exhausting.