Alison Keld, volunteers for the Guildhall Time Ball project and along with other volunteers she recently visited Cutty Sark and Greenwich as part of a study day.
30 May 2022
Myself and other Guildhall Time Ball volunteers went on a study visit to the Royal Museum Greenwich to learn more about navigation and the origins of the Time Ball.
We were met by our private tour guide Dr Emily Akkermans, the Curator of Time at the Royal Museum Greenwich. Dr Emily manages the horology collection. We learnt Horology is all about the study of the measurement of time.
We gathered in the courtyard of Flamsteed House with other spectators to watch the Greenwich Time Ball drop at precisely 1pm, as it has done daily since1833.
The purpose of the Time Ball was to give an accurate time check for shipping. Many were installed in ports around the British Isles and overseas, including Hull’s Guildhall Time Ball.
Flamsteed House is the original Royal Observatory building at Greenwich, designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1675. Dr Emily took us into the octagon room that houses the timepieces and instruments used by the Astronomers. We also viewed the apartments where they lived and worked.
Inside the observatory are rows of marine chronometers. Dr Emily explained in great detail the purpose of the many timekeepers including the marvels that are John Harrison’s marine chromometers. His first attempt at designing a marine timekeeper was the H1, which he tested on the River Humber.
Next stop was the Cutty Sark Museum, as we approached, the ship looked fabulous, sparkling in the glorious sunshine. The design of the modern museum enables you to walk around the Hull of the vessel.
On the cargo deck, the aroma of tea lingers as you walk around. Snippets of information are displayed in an imaginative way. We had a peek into the crews living quarters before admiring the ropes and rigging and the stunning view of the Thames and London skyline from the front of the ship.
In the gallery beneath the holds of the ship we saw the world’s largest collection of ships’ figureheads, a great place for a photo opportunity.
I believe Hull’s Arctic Corsair is to be displayed in her new berth at the North End Shipyard in similar style to the Cutty Sark. Can’t wait to see it, it’s going to be exciting, as is the Guildhall Time Ball reveal, expected later this year when the scaffold is removed.