Last time to see unique clock exhibition
Sunday 4 January will be the last chance to see the excellent‘Ships, Clocks and Stars’ exhibition at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
Open since July 2014, it has been one of the museum’s most successful exhibitions ever.
It marks the 300th anniversary of the Longitude Act of 1714, which offered a £20,000 prize to anyone who could devise a clock which could determine longitudinal (east-west) position.
After a lengthy race between many of the great minds of the day the problem was finally solved by English clockmaker John Harrison, who was rewarded by the Board of Longitude in 1773.
The core of the ‘Ships, Clocks & Stars’ exhibition is made up of all five remaining Harrison timepieces, thanks to the contribution of avid horologist Dr John C Taylor OBE who has allowed his prized John Harrison Longcase Pendulum Clock to be displayed.
Following the closure of ‘Ships, Clocks & Stars’ in London, the clocks from the exhibition will be displayed in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut and the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney.
Amongst the four timepieces that Dr Taylor has provided for the exhibition is his ‘Mudge Green’ clock, which was built in 1779 by Thomas Mudge. It is a landmark timepiece because of its pioneering use of a constant force escapement, a piece of technology that is still used in clocks today.
This is the first time that all of the Harrison clocks have been exhibited together and it is a unique chance to become immersed in Britain’s rich horological and navigational history.
Speaking about the exhibition, Dr Taylor said, “It is truly an honour to be a part of this fantastic exhibition.
“It’s extraordinarily rare to have five of John Harrison’s clocks together, and it’s quite possible that it will never happen again.
“I urge anyone who is interested in these magnificent clocks to come along to the exhibition – missing out would be a great pity.”
Dr Taylor’s interest in clocks does not lie solely in their history. He is the inventor and creator of the famous Corpus Chronophage which he donated to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he studied Natural Sciences. In deference to the clocks of John Harrison, the Chronophage, which is Ancient Greek for time-eater, features a huge grasshopper escapement in the shape of a fearsome moving grasshopper.
He recently created the Dragon Chronophage, a similar timepiece that features a moving dragon, which explores the theme of the relativity of time and only tells the correct time once every five minutes. It will be exhibited in China at the Design Shanghai event in March 2015.
‘Ships, Clocks & Stars’, National Maritime Museum, Park Row, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF
Opening hours: 10.00-17.00 daily (open till 20.00 Thursdays)
Price: £8.50 combined adult ticket includes entry to Royal Observatory and Longitude Punk’d exhibition
Telephone: +44 (0)20 8858 4422
A video of the Corpus Chronophage can be seen here.