Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Greenwich on the Thames, London

I remember years ago when I was in Egypt and we would listen to the BBC World Service for the signal at the hour coming from Greenwich where the famous meridian is located, we would set our watches on this signal. There is another meridian that one in Beijing and crosses the Tian An Men square, though Greenwich is the famous one.

I had heard of it but never visited the site of Greenwich, located further out than the Tower of London and across from Canary Wharf, I always thought it a fair distance but really it is not.

Greenwich has been many things, the site of a Royal Palace, a Naval School, a hospital for sailors and a scientific research station with its own telescope and the site of the famous meridian. At an international conference in October 1884 it was established by 44 participating countries that Greenwich would be the mean meridian on a 24 hour clock and this way all countries around the world would establish their time zones based on the Meridian of Greenwich. To this day the only country in the world not to adhere to this system is CHINA, Beijing time is the only one for the entire country, meaning that it is the same time where ever you may be in China. A little jingoism on the part of the Communist Party.
The main buildings of Greenwich, the great Hall to the left, the Queen's House in the middle and the Chapel on the right. The seating area is being dismantle it was part of events for the Olympics this past summer.

We sailed from Westminster Bridge down river towards Greenwich, it was a cold and blustery day with ever changing skies. I had never seen the City from the river. Arriving at Greenwich you are met by the Cutty Sark now beautifully restored. You can easily spend the day at Greenwich it is a large complex and park, so many details and so much to absorb with some of the best views of London. They had some Olympic competition during the summer and are still dismantling the seats and re-soding the great lawns.  The is also a monument to General James Wolfe next to the observatory. I really do not understand what Wolfe is doing there, what did the Seven Years War (1756-1763) and the Battle of Quebec City have to do with Greenwich, am not sure. The monument was unveiled by the descendant of his adversary the Marquis de Montcalm, the unlucky commander of the French Army. I do note that the monument is pock marked with bullet holes as if someone shot up the stone plinth.

A view from the hill looking towards Westminster, on the left you can see the new skyscraper called the Shard it is located near Waterloo Station. I do not like it, it looks inhuman or sic-fi.

Street view of Greenwich

The Cutty Sark, now completely restored.

The Bradly Observatory at the top of the hill of Greenwich. The view is spectacular.

The great Hall which is or was used as a banquet hall.

The apotheosis of Admiral Nelson whose body (note the bare feet indicating death) being held up by winged Victory is handed over to Britannia. Nelson is buried at St-Paul's Cathedral with the Duke of Wellington.

Greenwich buildings and park is a very large space and give yourself time to explore and look at the site including the Naval Museum which is very well done and interesting. Walk in its beautiful park and look for the Meridian line on the ground. I am glad I finally went to see it. Maybe go on a warmer day with less wind also helps, I needed a pair of gloves.



  1. Interesting tour of Greenwich -- thanks! And I didn't know China had its own meridian and time system.

  2. I should be British; I am wasted here in the States.