John ‘Longitude’ Harrison
13th November 2019 @ 5:45 pm
WHAT DID HE ACTUALLY ACHIEVE? A presentation by Douglas Bateman –
It is well known that John Harrison’s watch was the first to demonstrate that longitude could be determined at sea with the aid of a time-piece. Much has been written about his clocks and the watch, with the emphasis on the ‘story’. However, many writers ignore the importance of other workers and astronomers, and reluctantly mention that Harrison’s watch was completely uneconomic. Doug Bateman outlines the problem of accurate timekeeping and its potential solutions, through to the appearance of the box chronometer. The lecture mentions the Sheffield clockmaker, Benjamin Huntsman, who turned to developing crucible steel; the huge significance of Ramsden and his sextants; and Nevil Maskelyne, the Astronomer Royal, who helped to assess the watch, and pioneered the publication of the Nautical Almanac.