Introduction Harrison and the Longitude Problem What we learnt about Barrow in Harrison’s time What we learnt about the Humber Putting ourselves in their shoes People, places and things Further information Harrison! the play script Questions for Andrew King Better Barrow home page

Putting Ourselves in their Shoes

Children imagine themselves as John, Elizabeth or their son, William.

Picture 1

William, after the Board awards half the prize money, 1764

I don’t believe it! The Board of Longitude have declined my father’s ideas and clock again! I was just informed that three more mathematicians need to check my calculations just to be told they are insufficient readings!

Apparently, I should have measured the longitude of Jamaica by the eclipses of Jupiter’s moons. They never asked me to! And just to make the situation ten times worse that Maskelyne strolled in and announced he’d completed his lunar tables and any claim for the prize must be measured by those calculations. So ‘ever so kind’ Maskelyne got the Board of Longitude convinced it had been a bluff and I’d have to do it all again.

William, after the Board disputed H4’s accuracy, 1762

Picture 2

John’s frustrations as the Board is still not satisfied.

John and William came in and William announced, ‘Father is taking us to London to show the Astronomer Royal his clock!’ I can’t believe it! He works on those clocks all the time, ignores his children, never helps around the house and then announces he’s taking us to London for his stupid clocks!

Elizabeth Harrison is not best pleased!

Picture 3

Elizabeth contemplating the move to London, 1736

He has worked his whole life on that darn project and he still won’t give up. I wish he would have a break for a while. Because the Board of Longitude just won’t stop disappointing him. He really needs the weight being lifted off his off crooked shoulders.

Elizabeth after one of the setbacks from the Board.

Picture 4

John prepares for another meeting with the Board…

I went to the top deck. I rushed to the side of the ship. ‘Land ahoy!’ I cheered.

All the crew rushed to me. The captain came forward and announced that I was indeed right and we were nearing home.

‘So,’ announced the captain, ‘it seems that your clock device has guided us back to England.’

John, returning from Lisbon with H1, 1736

Picture 5

William, disputing with Captain Digges on the voyage to W Indies 1761.

Picture 5

Model of H2 by Y6 pupils – the clock that never went to sea.