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Papers on time balls, 1885 - 1910

Reference Code: GBR/0180/RGO 7/257

Scope and Contents

(1) Papers on time balls at various places, 1894-1910

Correspondence and papers on the following subjects:

Request by G.H. Hills to see the Greenwich time ball for guidance on the erection of a timeball at Chatham, answered by Christie, 1894.

Letter of thanks for C.F. Close's visit to inspect the time ball, 1894.

Arrangements for the fall of the Bremen time ball, reported by 'Normal Zeit' and acknowledged by F.W. Dyson, 1895.

P. Stevens on the difference in time between Newcastle and Greenwich, answered by H. Outhwaite, with an extract from the 'List of time signals', 1897.

Enquiry by G. Thaw regarding towns which have time balls, 1901.

Correspondence with W. Howe regarding serious malfunctions in the Southampton Time Ball, 1903.

R.S. Smart on arrangements for firing Scottish time guns, 1905.

Request by Wheatley and Sons for the address of a repairer of time balls, 1906.

Enquiry from the Naval Hydrographer regarding the late fall of the time balls at Chatham and Falmouth, answered by Christie, 1907.

Suggestion by J. Savidge of the British Horological Institute for the publication of lists of time signals from Greenwich, with Christie's suggestion that he contact the Post Office, 1907.

Notice of time signals in Canadian waters, 1907.

Enquiry by the British Empire League regarding synchronizing public clocks in crown colonies, answered by Christie with a list of places with time balls, 1909.

G.F. Copy on a proposed time ball for Wellington, New Zealand, 1910, with information supplied by P.H. Cowell.

Request from the Observatory at San Fernando for information regarding the Greenwich time service, forwarded by J. Jermyn, 1910.

(2) Papers on transit observations at Malta, 1903-1906

Correspondence and papers on the following subjects:

Arrangements between W.J. Wharton, Christie and E. MacGregor to instruct Commander F. Roberts in the use of the transit instrument, 1903.

Correspondence between Christie and W.J. Wharton regarding the latter's request for a portable transit hut, 1903.

Correspondence regarding defects in the transit instrument, 1903.

Notes that the transit instrument has not been sent and plans for the transit hut, 1904.

Suggestion from W.J. Wharton that a transit of Venus hut would be more suitable, which was not supported by W.H.M. Christie, 1904.

Return of an eyepiece by W.D. Barber, 1904.

Receipt for a transit instrument, 1904.

Correspondence with W.J. Wharton regarding his request for forms for transit observations, acted on by Christie, and concerning alterations to level forms, 1904.

Diary of work undertaken by Commander F. Roberts whilst at Greenwich, 7 November - 23 December 1903.

Observations made by Commander F. Roberts, 1903.

Request by A.M. Field for Christie to check the computation form, 1905.

Christie's suggestion and specimen for a computation form, acknowledged with thanks by A.M. Field, 1905.

Request by Christie to visit the Malta Time Ball and a subsequent invitation by A.M. Field stating that Commander F. Roberts will be on leave, 1905.

Notice and acknowledgement by W.D. Barber of Christie's visit to Malta, 1905.

Suggestion by A.M. Field for a form for the observations, 1905.

Papers by W.H.M. Christie regarding problems with the transit instrument, 1905.

Covering letter by W.D. Barber for a proposed observations form, which was not approved by the Royal Observatory, 1906.

Covering letter from A.M. Field for Commander F. Roberts's observations for chronometer error and various computations, 1906.

Comments on faults in the Malta observations, 1906.

Enquiry from H.P. Hollis to F.C. Hanning-Lee regarding duplicate forms for the observations, 1906.

(3) Papers on time signals at Malta, 1906-1907

Correspondence and papers on the following subjects:

Correspondence regarding arrangements between A.M. Field, E. MacGregor and Christie for training F.C. Hanning-Lee in the use of the transit instrument, 1906.

A.M. Field on the position regarding wireless signals between Malta and Gibraltar, 1906.

Progress report by Christie on F.C. Hanning-Lee and a request for specimen observation forms, granted by A.M. Field, 1906.

Suggestion by Christie that a sidereal chronometer be used at Malta, endorsed by A.M. Field, 1906.

Papers regarding the selection of McCabe 360 for sidereal time, 1906-1907.

Papers regarding the attendance of F.C. Hanning at the Observatory, 1907.

Letters of thanks and a request for books, forms and covering notes from F.C. Hanning-Lee to H.P. Hollis, 1906-1907.

Undated specimen forms for the Time Ball Observatory, Malta.

Request by F.C. Hanning-Lee for the sidereal chronometer, 1907.

(4) Papers regarding the Ceylon Time Ball, 1906-1909

Correspondence and papers on the following subjects:

Information required for the purchase of a time ball for Ceylon by the Crown Agents, submitted by Christie, 1906.

Complaint by the Crown Agents that the time ball will not work and that E. Dent and Co. will not accept liability, 1909.

Preliminary explanations by Christie of what may have gone wrong with the apparatus, 1909.

Covering letter to enclosures regarding the purchase of a time ball, 1909. The enclosures include: 1. Freight charges for the time ball; 2. Notice of the return of the time ball; 3. Defects in the apparatus; 4. Affirmation by E. Dent and Co. that they are not liable; 5. Estimate for the cost of the time ball; 6. Covering letter for the indent; and 7. Suggestion that expert opinion is sought on time balls.

Papers by Christie regarding probable failures in the time ball, 1909.

Request by P.D. Warren for an appointment to see Christie, granted by Christie, 1909.

Order from the Crown Agents for a replacement clock to be tested at the Royal Observatory, 1909.

Request from P.D. Warren that an extra wheel be put in the clock, 1909.

Christie's acceptance of the new time ball for testing, 1909.

The testing of the clock, with a suggestion from Christie that a compensator for barometric error be added, 1909.

Quotation from E. Dent and Co. for a barometric compensator, 1909.

Notification from A.G. Clayton that the barometric compensator is not required by the Crown Agents, relayed to E. Dent and Co., 1909.

Acknowledgement of the cancelled order by Christie, 1909.

Report concerning Dent 45082, the clock destined for the Ceylon Time Ball, acknowledged by the Crown Agents, 1910.

Memoranda, a summary and clock rates for Dent 45082 by T. Lewis, 1909.

Duplicate copies of E. Dent and Co.'s estimate and tender and the Crown Agents' indent for the original time ball apparatus, 1906.

Covering letter from T. Lewis regarding tapes for testing Dent 45082, acknowledged by E. Dent and Co., 1909.

Rules of Dent 43525 (the returned clock) and Dent 45082, 1909.

The tapes which tested the accuracy of Dent 45082, 1909.

(5) Miscellaneous correspondence concerned chiefly with the definition of time, 1887-1894

W. Ayston's enquiry about the best contact for a pendulum for an electric time signal, answered by Christie, 1887.

E.B. Wells' request for a definition for am and pm, answered by H.P. Hollis, 1893.

Query by F.G. Widdows whether 12 midnight is am, pm, or neither, answered by F.W. Dyson, 1894.

Enquiry from Stibbard and Gibson as to where the quarter days fall, answered by G.S. Criswick, 1894.

(6) Miscellaneous correspondence regarding the Portsmouth and Devonport Time Balls, 1891-1910

Correspondence and papers on the following subjects:

Notice by H.P. Hollis that time signals from Greenwich went out 1 second early, 1891.

Request by E. Dent and Co. for information on the return signal from the Portsmouth Time Ball, answered by Christie, 1892.

Request by Captain Tizard for the returns of the Devonport Time Ball, answered by Christie, 1892.

Covering note from Captain Tizard, on H. Pearson's behalf, stating that the signal received at Portsmouth was early, verified by Christie, 1892.

Request from H. Pearson for information to check the accuracy of his clock, answered by T. Lewis, 1892.

W.J. Wharton and Christie on preparations to receive a return signal from Portsmouth, 1892.

R. Jackson on the accuracy of the Portsmouth clock, 1893.

Papers by T. Lewis on the arrangements for notifying Portsmouth of clock errors, responded to by R. Jackson, who describes the means by which the signal is relayed and explains a discrepancy between Portsmouth and Greenwich time, 1893.

G.W. Underhill on the lateness of reports for the Portsmouth and Devonport Time Balls, answered by T. Lewis, 1893.

T. Lewis on failures of the Devonport time signal, 1894.

R. Jackson on discrepancies in the Portsmouth clocks, 1895.

Queries by R. Jackson concerning the failure of the return signal from Portsmouth, answered by T. Lewis and W. Moon, 1901.

Comments by R. Jackson regarding the Portsmouth return signal, 1901.

Notice of the failure of the Portsmouth return signal by R. Jackson, 1903.

Correspondence between A.M. Field and Christie regarding records of the performance of the Portsmouth Standard Clock, 1907.

A.M. Field's request for records of the Time Ball Clock, sent by Christie, 1908.

A.G. Yate's explanation of the problems arising when the Portsmouth Time Ball is dropped and F.W. Dyson's discussions on improving the Portsmouth Time Ball and explaining how the Greenwich Time Ball is dropped, 1910.

Covering letters for drawings of the time ball, sent by A.G. Yate, 1910.

F.W. Dyson's thoughts on the poor performance of the Portsmouth Time Ball drop and ways to remedy these problems, acknowledged by A.G. Yate, 1910.

Plan for the tripper box for releasing the Portsmouth Time Ball, 1910.

Plan for the Portsmouth semaphore tower equipped with the time ball, 1910.

Records of the return signals from the Portsmouth and Devonport standard clocks for February and July, with the methods of deducing the clock errors and a telegram enquiry concerning the return signal, 1895.

(7) General correspondence regarding the Devonport Time Ball, 1885-1889

Correspondence and papers on the following subjects:

Enquiries by W.J. Wharton into the feasibility and cost of a time ball similar to that at Devonport, answered by Christie, 1885.

Suggested trials of the Devonport Time Ball before building one on the Lizard Point, with an illustration by W.J. Wharton, 1885.

Note to Captain W.J. Wharton regarding a publication by the United States Signal Service, 1885.

Correspondence between Christie, H.H. Turner, W.J. Wharton and E. Dent and Co. concerning the conversion of Dent 2010 to a time signal clock to improve the Devonport Time Ball service and estimates from E. Dent and Co. and the Gutta Percha Co. for relays, 1885.

Sanction from E. Groves and W.J. Wharton for the improvement to take place, 1885.

Correspondence between H.H. Turner, Christie, H. Eaton and W.J. Wharton regarding procedure for sending the time signal, 1885-1886.

Christie, T. Lewis and W.J. Wharton on problems with the coil in the clock and its correction, with a watercolour plan of the trigger apparatus for the clock, 1886.

Correspondence between Christie and W.J. Wharton regarding the return signal, 1886.

List of signals received from Deal, 1886.

Correspondence between W.J. Wharton and Christie regarding the automatic gas regulator, 1887.

Failures in the return signal noted by T. Lewis, G.W. Underhill, W.J. Wharton and Christie and a list of observed times of receiving the Devonport time ball signal, 1887.

Discussions between W.J. Wharton and W.H.M. Christie regarding the amount of E. Dent and Co.'s bill for work on the time ball, 1887.

Correspondence with W.J. Wharton regarding his request for records of the clock performances, 1888.

W.J. Wharton and Christie on disparities between the Greenwich Mean Solar Clock and the Devonport signal, 1888.

Arrangements for sending a telegram to Plymouth if the return signal is half a second in error, 1888.

Correspondence of Christie and W.J. Wharton regarding errors in the time ball signal, 1888.

A.M.W. Downing noting the absence of a return signal, 1888.

Discussions between Christie, W.J. Wharton and J. Edwards regarding problems with the current for the return signal, 1889.

Discussion between Christie, W.J. Wharton and G.W. Underhill regarding failures in the return signal, 1889.


  • Creation: 1885 - 1910


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