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The Lady Who Sold Time

Jorgen Ellis

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Before radios became cheap and commonpalce, it was not easy to know the exact time. Clocks were usually wrong.

So, right up until WW2, a woman literally carried time around London.

Started 1836. The Royal Observatory in Greenwich had the only accurate clock in England. It was adjusted nightly by astronomers. And every day they were harrassed by people who wanted to check their clocks against the observatory one. So they farmed the job out to an asssistant.

Every day, he'd turn up with a huge chronometer, calibrate it to the observatory's clock, get a certificate to prove it was right, then take it around about 200 clients in London.

Originally just the railway stations who needed to coordinate trains, but then banks and lawyers, and sometimes just people who wanted the status of having exact Greenwich time.

The assistant, Henry Pond, died in 1856. The job went to his widow, who retired in 1893. She handed it over to her daughter Ruth. She kept it going until 1939, when she still had 50 clients. She died 4 years later.

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