Abstract
Britain's nineteenth-century railway companies traditionally play a central role in histories of the spread of standard Greenwich time. This relationship at once seems to embody a productive relationship between science and capitalism, with regulated time essential to the formation of a disciplined industrial economy. In this narrative, it is not the state, but capitalistic private commerce which fashioned a national time system. However, as this article demonstrates, the collaboration between railway companies and the Royal Greenwich Observatory was far from harmonious. While railways did employ the accurate time the observatory provided, they were also more than happy to compromise the astronomical institution's ability to take the accurate celestial observations that such time depended on. Observing astronomical transits required the use of troughs of mercury to reflect images of stars, but the construction of a railway too near to the observatory threatened to cause vibrations which would make such readings impossible. Through debates over proposed railway lines near the observatory, it becomes clear how important government protection from private interests was to preserving astronomical standards. This article revises our understanding of the role of railway companies in the dissemination of standard time and argues that state intervention was essential to preserving Victorian British astronomical science.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/s0007087419000529
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 50,391
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

George Biddell Airy and Horology.J. A. Bennett - 1980 - Annals of Science 37 (3):269-285.
Astronomical Observations at the Maragha Observatory in the 1260s–1270s.S. Mozaffari - 2018 - Archive for History of Exact Sciences 72 (6):591-641.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2019-10-13

Total views
6 ( #1,025,364 of 2,326,153 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #213,215 of 2,326,153 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes