Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hey Buddy, Got The Time...?

This is something most of us never even think about. At least, I know I don't! I certainly never thought about making a living telling the time!

It's always amazing to find out just how creative folks can be about earning a living. I'll have to admit, this was a new one for me! It must have been a needed service to have stayed around for so long!


The Woman Who Sold The Time Of Day
By Michael Van Duisen on Wednesday, August 14, 2013

In the 1800s and 1900s, before radio or reliable clocks, the only official clock in England was located at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Ruth Belville, like her father and mother before her, would check her pocket watch against the clock located in the Observatory and then travel back to London, charging people to see what the time was. For 103 years, the Belvilles provided Londoners with an extremely accurate time, until an 86-year-old Ruth had to retire because of World War II.




In 1836, a Royal Observatory, Greenwich worker by the name of Henry Belville noticed people would come to his place of work in order to find out the correct time. The Observatory is located on a hill in Greenwich Park and was a substantial distance from most of London, especially in those days. He surmised that if people were willing to spend all that time walking to the Observatory, they might be willing to pay if someone would come to them. Later that year, Henry attracted between 50 and 200 interested customers and his business was started.

He quit his job at the Observatory and, every morning, would travel there to set the time on his chronometer—a special kind of pocket watch, certified to be more precise than any other. (Fun fact: It was called “Arnold” after its inventor, Englishman John Arnold, and was originally owned by the Duke of Sussex.) Then he would travel by horse throughout London, meeting up with his customers and allowing them to set their clocks and watches to his time, which was accurate to one-tenth of a second.

For 20 years, Henry continued with his business, which flourished because of his reputation for accuracy. When he died in 1856, his wife Maria continued sharing the time until she retired 42 years later. It was then that Ruth took up the mantle and remained just as accurate. That reputation served her well because, in 1908, John Wynne, the owner of a company that wanted to spread time telegraphically, publicly slammed Ruth, slandering her business and her person. Luckily, Wynne’s speech had the opposite of its intended effect and, because having the correct time was something of a status symbol, Ruth’s client list actually grew.

Even after radio became widespread, people still wanted to get their time from Ruth, and she continued giving it to them until she had to stop in 1940 because World War II was getting worse. Her remaining 50 clients bid her good luck, ending a 103-year-old company, and she lived for another four years before passing away at the age of 90.

Honestly, would you have ever considered making a living a living doing this? Pretty inventive, I'd say!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Bad storm came through yesterday evening and really messed things up outside!

13 comments:

Gorges Smythe said...

Novel idea!

HermitJim said...

Hey Gorges...
Seemed to have been a "timely" idea!

Thanks for the visit today!

thecottagebythecranelaketwo said...

What a great idea!
That's my kind of work, just telling people what time it is :-) :-)

Have a great day!
Christer.

HermitJim said...

Hey Christer...
Seems to have worked fine for them!

Thanks, my friend, for coming by today!

Chickenmom said...

Must have been very difficult in the Winter! 'Hope you did not get a lot of damage from the storm, Mr. Hermit.
I'll bring cream puffs for all and we'll help you clean up!

Momlady said...

Interesting post, sir. I do believe that time tends to get away from us and flies by faster as we get older. Looks like we may be getting that storm.

Sixbears said...

Future generations may be amazed that people made money selling access to the Internet.

Rob said...

It is amazing how much the world has changed in a short time.

http://www.time.gov/timezone.cgi?Central/d/-6/java

Sunnybrook Farm said...

Having coffee here. I expect that there is a federal law against selling the time by now, probably something to do with homeland security or something.

linda m said...

Some people just seem to know how to be inventive. Very interesting. Have a great weekend.

JO said...

Selling time who would think, since every object we use today had some kind of clock or watch built in. I stopped wearing a watch awhile back. Have the time right on the cell phone.

Hope there isn't too much damage at your place.

HermitJim said...

Hey Phyllis...
Bad weather would certainly have made it difficult, but that is probably where they built their good reputation from...meeting their schedule!

Thanks for coming over today!



Hey Momlady...
No doubt that time flies faster now that I'm older.

Certainly gets away from me!

Thanks for coming by today!



Hey Sixbears...
Makes you wonder jut what the future generations will think of all we do!

Thanks for coming over today!



Hey Rob...
So many changes in such a short time is pretty amazing! Too bad that all of them are not necessarily for the better!

Thanks for dropping by today!



Hey Sunnybrook...
If there isn't a law, there will be soon! That seems to be how it works!

I appreciate you coming by today!



Hey Linda...
Like the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention!

Thanks for dropping by this morning!



Hey Jo...
I quit wearing a watch long ago as well!

To tell the truth, I really don't care what time it is anymore!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming over today!



Dizzy-Dick said...

I wonder if she would sell me some extra time? At my age I surely could use it!!