Where East Meets West -Part 14 – Greenwich

As my Meridian journey comes to an end (at least for the time being) it was only fitting to visit the place where it all began.  The Greenwich Observatory.

We set off, on a blistering hot day in the middle of July, for two days in Greenwich, to meet the heroes of my story really – the Harrison Clocks.

John Harrison, lived in Barrow – about 30 miles north of my home – he performed his first sea trials of the now famous H1 clock, on the Humber Estuary, before continuing with his other clocks H2, to H5.

Harrison was born in Yorkshire – moving with his family to Barrow when only a youngster – he and his brother together built a number of long case clocks (the first of which is now in a museum in Leeds) – a further clock, commissioned for the turret of the stables at Brocklesby park was made of oak, and Lignum Vitae (a very oily wood that made lubrication of the clock unnecessary).  Here it is, and still running for the last 300 years.

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Harrison was a man of many skills and he used these to systematically improve the performance of the pendulum clock. He invented the gridiron pendulum, consisting of alternating brass and iron rods assembled so that the thermal expansions and contractions essentially cancel each other out. Another example of his inventive genius was the grasshopper escapement– a control device for the step-by-step release of a clock’s driving power. Developed from the anchor escapement it was almost frictionless requiring no lubrication because the pallets were made from wood. This was an important advantage at a time when lubricants and their degradation were little understood.

In his earlier work on sea clocks, Harrison was continually assisted, both financially and in many other ways, by George Graham the watchmaker and instrument maker. Harrison was introduced to Graham by the Astronomer Royal, Edmund Haley. who championed Harrison and his work. This support was important to Harrison, as he was supposed to have found it difficult to communicate his ideas in a coherent manner.

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(London viewed from the Greenwich Observatory)

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And the observatory itself.

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You can see from the crowd how busy the place actually was.  It was impossible to get a straight shot of the Meridian Line.

Also, sadly, my site here does not support video, so I am unable to upload the video I did of the H1 – H3 clock movements.  However, you can see below – the changes from H1 to H4 (I didn’t see H5, as this is in a different location in London).

 

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Harrison died on March 24, 1776 at the age of eighty-two, just shy of his eighty-third birthday. He was buried in the graveyard of St John’s Church Hampstead, in north London, along with his second wife Elizabeth and later their son William. His tomb was restored in 1879 by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, even though Harrison had never been a member of the Company.

Harrison’s last home was 12, Red Lion Square in theHolborn district of London. There is a plaque dedicated to Harrison on the wall of Summit House, a 1925 modernist office block, on the south side of the square. A memorial tablet to Harrison was unveiled in Westminster Abbey on 24 March 2006, finally recognising him as a worthy companion to his friend George Graham and Thomas Tompion, ‘The Father of English Watchmaking’, who are both buried in the Abbey. The memorial shows a meridian line (line of constant longitude) in two metals to highlight Harrison’s most widespread invention, the bimetallic strip thermometer. The strip is engraved with its own longitude of 0 degrees, 7 minutes and 35 seconds West.

A further memorial to John Harrison will be erected in Barton town centre later this year. I believe the installation of the statue will be in September, with a formal unveiling in October of 2019.

I hope you have enjoyed this meridian journey with me.  Maybe there will be more to come.

In the meantime, I hope to have this talk ready for the road by the end of September this year.  I look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

 

Where East Meets West – Part 13 – Holbeach

Holbeach is a fenland market town in the South Holland district of south Lincolnshire.  It is 8 miles from Spalding, 17 from Boston, and 43 from Lincoln.

The town’s market charter was awarded in 1252 to Thomas de Moulton, a local baron.  All  Saints Church, was built in the 14th century and the porch, which was built around 1700, possibly incorporated parts of Moulton Castle.  The associated All Saints’ Hospital, for a warden and fifteen poor persons, was founded by Sir John of Kirton, in 1351. 

The image below is the meridian marker here.

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Until the beginning of the 17th century, the sea came to within 2 miles of the town and there were severe floods recorded in the 13th and 16th centuries. The land drainage programmes that followed moved the coastline of the Wash to 9 miles away, leaving Holbeach surrounded by more than 23,000 acres (93 km2) of reclaimed land. In 1615,

Further enclosure of marshes were recorded in 1660, in Gedney, Whaplode, Holbeach and Moulton.  The work included the building of an embankment, and resulted in 9,798 acres being added to Holbeach parish.  You can see part of this embankment below.

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Holbeach also had a workhouse (as did most places) – and only read the following if you have a strong stomach… !!!

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In April 1882 the master of Holbeach Workhouse, Walter Brydges Waterer, was accused of the manslaughter of a workhouse inmate, 22-year-old Thomas Bingham.

Poor Thomas suffered from a skin disease, and therefore to treat him, Waterer had left the man in a sulphur-burning cabinet, which was used as a treatment for what was known as “the itch”, or scabies.

The patient stood naked inside the cabinet with his head poking out of the top. The sulphur was then placed on an iron tray at the bottom of the cabinet, beneath a grating, and ignited by a piece of hot iron.

On this fateful day, though, Waterer had left Bingham encased in the cabinet and disappeared to attend to a matter elsewhere, but then completely forgot about his patient.

Others were eventually alerted by Bingham’s cries for help, and he was released…but on stepping out of the cabinet, he had been so hideously burned that skin and flesh appeared to just slide away from his body. Thomas Bingham died a few hours later. Waterer was found not guilty of manslaughter.

And sadly also, here ends my trip around Lincolnshire – I’ll be doing one more post – following on a trip to Greenwich, which seems to be to be a logical final step.

I’m busy now putting the talk together which will accompany the photographs taken on my journey.  In the meantime.  Onwards to Greenwich…….

 

There’s Too Much Noise

I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s too much going on around me, and it’s distracting me from my photography.

Not the camera – but the rest of it – the internet (in particular Facebook), the computer generally, the radio, the television – it’s all getting to be too much.

I know I’m not taking enough time over my photographs – I feel rushed…. complete this, edit that, mount up this one… and I know I’ve talked about this before – and still done nothing about it.  Well from this minute forward I will – I promise.

I’m trying to be on a Facebook hiatus.  I do check in to look at what’s going on from time to time, but nowhere near as often as I did.  I’ve turned off the TV (other than Wimbledon) and I’m listening to podcasts only in the evenings.

I think that the more I can turn off technology, the more I should be able to concentrate on my photography – and do you know, it’s starting to work for me.

I’ve found more time for my edits, and am now looking at some photographs I took about 2 weeks ago and appreciating what I can do with them.

The plan is to go back to images I took ages ago, and re-edit them. I think that because of the rush to produce I’ve not always done my best, so I want to start again, and get some prints done, and keep up with the blog too.

Last weekend, was Armed Forces Day in Cleethorpes – I was away (on family business) for part of it, but did manage to join a couple of other photographers on the Sunday afternoon.  We shot some aircraft displays, and I purposely took far fewer images than I would normally do – and the results were much better.  The other plus side was that I actually watched most of the displays – something I would normally miss, as I’d be hidden behind the camera frantically trying to track a Eurofighter as it shot across the sky.

Here’s a couple from last weekend then, a fast one, and a slow one…….  the rest of the edits will just have to wait!