Time sellers

"Time is money," we say, when we want to emphasize that it’s not worth it. But in the XIX century, residents of London could interpret the phrase literally: "Want to know what time it is, – pay". Knowing the exact time was for the family of Belville the source of income over the century.

John Henry Belville settled in the Greenwich Royal Observatory in 1811. His duties came to help the Royal Astronoma follow the weather.

At the beginning of the XIX century, the clock was just started to acquire popularity, and it was possible to find out the exact time from the Royal Astronomer. Gradually wishing to do it became more and more, and George Biddell Eyri, who took the position in 1835, could not stand, calling the responsible work to his assistant.

So began a monopoly of the Belleville family. In 1836, John Belvilu gave out pocket watches made by the famous British watchmaker John Arnold. They should be treated with the Greenwich Observatory clock and report exact time to residents of London. Those who were ready to pay for it. How much did the service cost, the story is silent. But it is known that Belville had about 200 customers: banks, urban firms, watchmakers, as well as other private persons who were supposed to know the exact time.

In 1856, Belville left the earthly yudol. By the time George Eyry, with the help of Telegraph, has established the transmission of exact time Railway stations and post offices. However, for the British traditions above the convenience. Almost 100 people, accustomed to the services of Belleville, turned to his widow Mary with a request to continue. She agreed. And when in 1892 he retired, a family business of the daughter Ruth was transferred, which was subsequently called "Lady of time in Greenwich".

Accurate clock synchronization was especially important for British Railways. The employee regulates the clock in the Dispatcher London Railway Station. 1925 © Hulton Collection

Time sellers

Every morning, Monday Ruth Belville began with the fact that she went to the Greenwich Observatory. There received a certificate showing how "Arnold" (so the woman called the pocket watches that got from the Father) lags behind or hurry, and went to customers.

Problems began in 1908, when Ruth Belleville had a competitor – Director of Standart Time John Winn, who provided a similar service with the help of telegraph. On one of the speeches to the members of the city council, Winn accused Belleville that it uses an outdated method. At the same time hinted that the royal astronomer left her work, exposed to the influence of female char. The speech was printed in The Times, and Ruth attacked journalists.

However, the publication in the press led to the effect of which John Winn did not expect – Ruth Belleville became famous for the whole UK. From now on, everyone wanted to learn exactly from her. Moreover, the rental of his own telegraph line, which is provided by Standart Time, not everyone could afford.

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