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Author Topic: Sheerness Time Ball  (Read 15391 times)

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John38

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Re: Sheerness Time Ball
« Reply #28 on: October 23, 2013, 20:44:48 »
They used to hoist cones (gale warning?) from Garrison Point it, would have been logical (and supported below) to assume a time ball would operate from there as it would serve the same audience

Offline kyn

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Re: Sheerness Time Ball
« Reply #27 on: September 10, 2013, 16:17:00 »
Thanks you, that confirms its original placement on the semaphore tower.  More info on the semaphore to come at a later date as have been looking into it.  I still haven't seen any images showing the ball though, although the semaphore itself is clear on some construction and later images.

Offline scoop

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Re: Sheerness Time Ball
« Reply #26 on: September 10, 2013, 12:00:43 »
Found a bit more information from Google Books (The Dock and Harbour Authority Vol 67 p 104 Foxlow Publications Ltd 1986) that would seem to confirm the location on the fort and describes construction.  Only available as a 'Snippet' view so the full page is not readable;

"The station stands on the ramparts of Garrison Point Fort.  Built in the 1860's on a 60 degree bend in the Medway which prevents ships having a forward line-of-sight as they approach or leave Sheerness and the up-river ports of Rochester, Strood and Chatham.

When the station was opened by the Admiralty on May 27 1895 it comprised a round, single storey, Kentish ragstone turret surmounted by a semaphore platform, and a time-ball which was lowered at noon so that mariners in the Medway estuary could set their chronometers.

In 1899 a second storey, constructed from rendered masonry, was added so that signals from the turret could be seen....."

The rest of the page is not visible but it looks like the Article may go on to talk about the stations later operation.

Offline kyn

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Re: Sheerness Time Ball
« Reply #25 on: September 09, 2013, 23:25:26 »
Thank you so much for that. It confirms a ball. But I can't find any pictures at all of it, apart from the possible one earlier.

Offline CDP

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Re: Sheerness Time Ball
« Reply #24 on: September 09, 2013, 22:36:48 »
From my friend Paul Dummott of Sheerness Heritage Centre.

 
(c) LIST OF TIME SIGNALS IN GREAT BRITAIN

Place              Signal adopted 

Greenwich         Black Ball (Royal Observatory )
Sheerness          Black Ball ( Garrison Fort )
Deal                  Black ball (Telegraph Tower )
Dover                Gun ( near Drop Battery )*
Portsmouth         Black Ball (Dockyard Semaphore )
Southampton      Ball (South Castle )
Devonport          Black Ball , also gun on Mount Wise *
Falmouth            Black Ball ( Penerris Castle )
Swansea            Gun on Old Eastern Pier *
Liverpool             Gun (Morpeth Dock Pier )*
Dundee               Gun *
Edinburgh (Leith) Ball (Carlton Hill) also Gun (Edinburgh Castle )*
North Shields       Gun ( near Albert Edward Dock)*
Cork                   Gun  ( Victoria Quay )*
Queenstown        (Gun (near Military Hospital )*
Dublin                Black Ball (Royal Observatory)

* The signals at the above places are made at 1 p.m. Greenwich mean time, with the exception of Dover, where the gun is fired at noon Greenwich mean time.

At most of these places no signal is made on Sundays or general holidays.

NOTE (Liverpool). — Chronometers tested gratis at Bidston Observatory.


[The above is from Lloyd's Calendar, by kind permission.]



The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

Offline kyn

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Re: Sheerness Time Ball
« Reply #23 on: September 09, 2013, 14:19:29 »
Thanks Paul  :)

Offline Paul

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Re: Sheerness Time Ball
« Reply #22 on: September 09, 2013, 12:14:30 »
Found this. Not sure of the date, No ball.
Maybe it's big horse I'm a Londoner. :{

Offline conan

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Re: Sheerness Time Ball
« Reply #21 on: September 09, 2013, 11:00:11 »
Ah well, Scoops press cuttings date the time ball installation to 1894 which makes my prints that I put up way too early.....
To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child......Cicero

Minsterboy

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Re: Sheerness Time Ball
« Reply #20 on: September 09, 2013, 10:31:47 »
And I knew I'd seen that photo on page 46 before, just didn't get round to having a look in my copy of David Hughes book.

Offline kyn

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Re: Sheerness Time Ball
« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2013, 07:15:39 »
 :)

Offline peterchall

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Re: Sheerness Time Ball
« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2013, 22:40:36 »
I lived in Sheerness Gun-wharf in 1938 and it was one of the highlights of my life, with many happy memories, but don't remember a gun being fired, or a time ball, although its probable location was visible from our living-room window.

However, it was 75 years ago, and I would be interested to know if my 'non-memory' is correct.

At least my memory was correct for the time I lived there. Phew - it's not so bad as I thought :) :)
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

Offline kyn

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Re: Sheerness Time Ball
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2013, 22:14:37 »
Thank you so much for the reports and everyone's comments.  I did think the time ball was part of the signal station.  The signal station was just east of the fort until Garrison Point Fort was built, and then it was incorporated into the fort itself.  I would love to see an image showing it clearly, I am sure one will turn up one day!

Offline davpott

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Re: Sheerness Time Ball
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2013, 22:07:47 »
The Greenwich and Deal Time balls were synchronistcly connected electrically for accurate sun shooting navigation purposes  .Other dockyards with time balls were presumeably for a rougher navigation estimate for local shipping and mateys in the dockyard to set clocks and watches by.
 From Greenwich Site to answer Pauls question why 1 not Noon.

To expand on Grandarogs answer.

Wherever you are in the world the sun's zenith (highest point) is always at midday, the problem is over the 360 degrees of Earth circumference there are an equal number of middays as degrees of a circle. Every 15 degrees is another hour difference of when the sun reaches its zenith. 
Aside from the problem of being able to accurately tell the time, this basic navigational law was known and used by mariners long before 'modern' navigation began. 

 Greenwich was chosen as a datum point from which all time is measured. The French used Paris for a while, even coastal French charts still show Paris as a datum alongside Greenwich which has long been the international date line ie zero degrees. Its now called UTC ( Coordinated Universal Time ) still often known as GMT and I am sure at sea still call Zulu.

Once you have an accurate time all sorts of sights can be used in navigation. The midday sun is a classic for ocean navigation which easily gives longtitude, having got the time of the zenith a good shot of the horizon will also give a good fix for latitude.  The moon can be used but its cycle so complicated few if any used it. The stars however could, once you know the time and have a good head for complicated sums and logarithm tables, sight reduction tables and a good sextant tell you where you are.

The idea of time balls is not so much to set a chronometer by, but it was the means by which its error could be calculated. If from leaving Greenwich, with a clock that had been set there and the timepiece a week later sitting in the Roads off of Deal had an error of one second over say three days, the navigator would know to make a note of that error and adjust his calculations accordingly to given an accurate fix......not much if your passage is only a few weeks but if it was years it mounts up.       

Offline scoop

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Re: Sheerness Time Ball
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2013, 22:07:30 »
I found a few press references:
Established c1894, Cannon discontinued c1923 & Dismantled c1933.

Offline The Sheppey Kingmaker

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Re: Sheerness Time Ball
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2013, 21:34:29 »
Looking at the First picture it says 'from the Garrison Point Flagstaff' and on the maps I have of the dockyard it shows the flagstaff as being on the coastal area north of Admiralty House and just east of Garrison Point Fort.

Hope this is of some help to you

 

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