A guide to the London Borough of Greenwich.The UNESCO World Heritage Site and soon to be Royal Borough of the London Borough of Greenwich is the home of the Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum and Greenwich Mean time.
There are many landmarks within London Town which are instantly recognisable worldwide,
from historical icons such as Buckingham Palace, The Houses of Parliament and St Paul's Cathedral, to more modern structures gaining worldwide acclaim such as The Gherkin and the London Eye, but few areas of London are so well reknowned.
The two cities of London and Westminster may well head most peoples lists in terms of international reputation, but in terms of international exclusivity , one would be hard presssed to find a London borough more befitting this honour than the London Borough of Greenwich.
This south London borough, famous for the Royal Palace that saw the births of most of the British Tudor monarchs,the final resting place of the Cutty Sark and home of the Royal Observatory, touches the lives of each and everyone of us.
Owing to it's unique position on the Prime Meridian, ( the line of longtitude defined as ' 0 ', ) and along with it's global opposite, the 180th meridian, ( the international dateline ), they form a circle that divides the earth into the Eastern and Western hemispheres.
This prime meridian also known as the Greenwich Meridian, passes through the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, and it is here that the world's time is defined, which is known internationally as Greenwich Mean Time.
The Royal Observatory.
Originally designated by a 25 nation delegation at the International Meridian Conference of 1884, organised by former U.S President Chester A. Arthur, to determine the world's prime meridian, the meridian is ultimately arbitrary, and completely a matter of convention.
Britain was chosen as the position of the Prime Meridian becouse of it's long association and expertise regarding naval navigation and shipping.
The meridian runs from the North Pole to the South Pole and incorporates the nations of the U.K, France, Spain, Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ghana and Queen Maud Land in Antarctica, and is internationally recognised as the world's primary time base, of which all other times are derived.
Greenwich Park showing the National Maritime Museum.
The Royal Observatory is situated in the 74 hectare ( 180 acre ) Greenwich Park and was commissioned in 1675 by King Charles II, replacing the former Greenwich Castle, which had stood in that location since the park was first landscaped in 1427.
King Charles created the position of Astronomer Royal upon John Flamsteed, in order that he may rectify the tables of the stars and heavens and perfect the art of navigation by means of finding longtitude places within the globe.
Today the observatory is part of the National Maritime Museum, which along with the Old Royal Naval College and Queens House, make up the World Heritage Site, that was designated to the Thameside site at Greenwich in 1997.
Inside the Royal Observatory is a museum of astronomical and navigational tools and horological artifacts.
Also situated in the observatory is the 28 inch Grubb refracting telescope, dating back to 1893, the Harrison chronometer, used for determining longtitude by means of celestial navigation and a modern planatarium completed in 2007.
Situated at the main gates of the observatory is the Shepherd Clock, a slave mechanism clock controlled by electric pulses within the main building, which dates back to 1852 and is unique for it's 24 hour analog dial, unheard of in it's day.
The Shepherd Clock.
On the outside of the observatory building the Prime Meridian is marked by way of a laser beam that is pointing northwards at 0 degrees.
The observatory laser.
Considered equal to G.M.T is U.T.C ( co ordinated universal time ) which is a time standard based on international atomic time which adds leap seconds at irregular intervals to compensate for the earth's slowing rotation, and is generally used for high precision timings.
Time zones are are expressed as plus or minus G.M.T / U.T.C with G.M.T considered British Civil Time along with a few other nations that geographically should sit at G.M.T / U.T.C - 1, they are The Canary Islands, Portugal, Madeira, Ireland and The Faroe islands.
Iceland is the most westerly country to use the G.M.T / U.T.C time zone, owing to it's geographical location it should really be set at -2 hours.
THE WORLD'S TIMEZONES,SHOWING THE PRIME MERIDIAN AND INTERNATIONAL DATELINE.
Also located at the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Greenwich is The Cutty Sark, a merchant clipper preserved in dry dock at Greenwich Dock, which was commissioned in 1869 and is one of only three clippers left in existance in the world today.
The Cutty Sark.
The Queens House, situated in Greenwich Park, which was built in 1614 by Inigo Jones for Queen Anne of Denmark, wife of King James I of England, which today houses one of the largest collections of maritime paintings and portraits in the world.
The Queen's House.
The Old Royal Naval College, built on the site of the former Palace of Placentia, birthplace of King Henry VIII and Queen Elisabeth I, which Sir Christopher Wren first built as a Royal Naval Hospital later to be made into a naval college, which is today the largest maritime and naval museum in the world.
The National Maritime Museum.
THE ROYAL BOROUGH.
To mark her diamond Jubilee, Queen Elisabeth II has designated Greenwich a Royal Borough from the year 2012, There are three other Royal Boroughs within the Greater London area, Kingston Upon Thames in Surrey, Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire and the only other one within the environs of London Town, Kensington and Chelsea.
Images courtesy of wikimedia commons.
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