Exhibition salutes Lincolnshire hero John Harrison

There are only a few days left to see an exhibition in Caistor about famous clockmaker John Harrison, as it is likely to close earlier than originally advertised.

Various logistical snags have led to the earlier closure, rather than a lack of visitors to the exhibition at Caistor’s Arts and Heritage Centre.

The people who turned out to see the exhibition yesterday (Saturday, August 22, 2015) had an extra bonus – Christina McGilligan-Fell, founding director of the John Harrison Foundation, was there in person to talk about her Lincolnshire hero.

Ms McGilligan-Fell arranged the exhibition to appeal to all age ranges, and was adept at persuading children to join in with producing maritime-themed artwork, as well as engaging in detailed discussion with visitors who had in depth prior knowledge of John “Longitude” Harrison.

“Was he the guy who made Delboy and Rodney a fortune when they found one of his timepieces in “Only Fools and Horses?” queried one visitor.

“Yes,” said Ms McGilligan-Fell. “The watch they supposedly found is real, and it’s still out there, somewhere.”

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John Harrison was born in 1693 and he moved to Barrow-Upon-Humber when still a young child. An Act of Parliament in 1714 offered a £20,000 prize to anyone who could produce a method of finding longitude at sea.

For every 15 degrees eastward on the globe, local time moves forward by one hour. If a traveller knows the local time of two points on the globe, the difference in time can be used to work out the distance in longitude between them. The development of a reliable, portable clock was crucial to solving the longitude problem.

John Harrison, a joiner with little formal education, produced several pieces, numbered H1 through to H5, making scientific progress with each one. He worked out how to compensate for temperature change, leading to the early development of the thermostat, how to make a device that would run without lubrication, and how to make a caged roller bearing. He had a long, drawn-out process to get the Commissioners of Longitude to pay out the reward money, but he received the bulk of it after intervention from King George III, and he was acknowledged as having solved the longitude problem.

Besides details of John Harrison’s scientific discoveries, the exhibition included details of Longitude Wood – a nature reserve close to St Michael’s Church at Great Coates near Grimsby. Longitude Wood was planted at the end of 2014 as a lasting memorial to John Harrison and to mark the 300th anniversary of the Queen Anne Act of Longitude.

The exhibition at Caistor Arts and Heritage Centre is now likely to close on August 28 instead of August 31.

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1 Comment

  1. Simon Yeo

    Thank you for your article, I am pleased you enjoyed the exhibition all be it much smaller than we would normally do.
    As time and research goes on I feel certain the common misapprehension that Harrison had little education will be proved wrong.
    We did not have the space at Caistor to exhibit some of the bigger projects we are developing but hope in the future to find a bigger venue in Lincolnshire and out of that will come a travelling version.
    Best wishes, Simon Yeo: Creative Director, John Harrison Foundation.

    Reply

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