Heroes of Clockpersonkind #1: A Brave Clock Goes to Sea

Hello readers, this is Mr Daffodil’s friend, MX Clocktummy here. Usually Mr Daffodil shares some of his favourite music with you on Friday. However, today is a very special Friday, and Mr Daffodil agreed to let me write a post today about a special human: Mr John Harrison.

Today is definitely the anniversary of John Harrison’s death and possibly also the anniversary of his birth.

One of the problems people had in the seventeenth century was that the calendar was wrong, so although Mr John Harrison was born on 24 March 1693, it was later decided that he was really born on 3 April 1693. He lived a long time and died on 24 March 1776.

Another big problem at that time in history was that people couldn’t tell the time very well, because my relatives who lived then were not very accurate. This was especially bad for sailors, who would really have liked to have good clocks so that they could calculate where their ships were. Unfortunately, the best clocks were too big for the ships, and the little clocks were did not keep good time because they got seasick, and also because we clocks generally do not like getting wet.

Mr John Harrison was a clever man who worked for many years to create a “marine chronometer” that would be portable and precise. Many people thought that he would never succeed, because this was very difficult to do, but he made it.

His Sea Watch No.1 was also called H4 (because her older sisters H1, H2 and H3 were not really ready to go sailing). H4 was a true hero. She had many adventures sailing to Jamaica and back. Some twin copies of H4 even went to explore the Pacific Ocean.

These Clocks are real heroes, I think, and today we should be thankful for the hard work and patience of their maker, Mr John Harrison.

You can read all about Mr John Harrison and his awesome clockchildren in a little book called Longitude by Dava Sobel. I would love to meet Ms Sobel and tell her how much I liked her book. As soon as I had read it, I ordered some copies of it for the History of Time section of the Cowentry University Library where I work as the Chief Librarian’s Timepiece.

Mr John Harrison (24th of March 1693?-24th of March 1776) with one of his adoptive clockchildren