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    Re: Chronometer testing, was: Reliable Index Correction to a Tenth Minute of Arc
    From: Douglas Denny
    Date: 2010 Mar 4, 04:38 -0800

    I took my own advice and asked the man who would know - Johnathan Betts Horological Curator of the Greewich Royal Observatory. He has cleared-up my queries.

    The Admiralty were completely separate to Kew Observatory, and all their work on chronometers and sextants was done at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

    Kew was for all 'civil' testing.

    The Kew trials for chronometers and watches was done at Kew Observatory for all 'civil' requirements - clock and watch manufacturers or retailers who would gain a premium presumably having a Kew Observatory certificate for their instuments or clocks. Some work was done on sextants, and it is possible the Admiralty might have sent some to Kew for testing.

    Kew Observatrory and its facilities was transferred to Bushy House at Teddington; and this later became the National Physical Laboratory, which is of course the prime standards facility for Britain.

    From Richmond local history for Bushy House:

    The National Physical Laboratory:
    The Royal Society were looking for a home for its proposed National Standards Laboratory which was originally intended to be housed at the Royal Observatory at Kew, but the premises were not suitable. It was the first Government-funded laboratory in Britain.

    The purposes for which the NPL was originally established were threefold:
    • to carry out research – particularly research into the accurate determination of physical constants
    • to establish and maintain precise standards of measurement
    • to make tests of instruments and materials.

    In 1900 the Government, with Queen Victoria’s approval, allotted the site for the purposes of the new National Physical Laboratory which was opened in March 1902 by the Prince and Princess of Wales. A portion of Bushy House – the upper floor -then became the residence of the Director of the NPL, the first one being Sir Richard Glazebrook, FRS.


    All the archives and records for both the Kew Trials and Greenwich Trials for chronometers are now held by the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

    Douglas Denny.
    Chichester. England.
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