The IRISH MAIL TRAIN 150 YEARS ON
On 31st July 1998 the Irish Mail train carried a watch set to GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) which was handed over the Royal Observatory, Greenwich at Euston Station in London for distribution across the country and then on to Dun Laoghaire in Ireland. Jonathan Bets – a curator of Horology at the Observatory handed the watch bearing GMT to the Curator of Astronomy at the Observatory – Maria Blyzinky for the journey to Holyhead. The watch is a silver pair cased pocket chronometer (provided by Charles Frodsham & Co. Ltd, London – Established in 1834), is typical of timekeepers used on the original Irish mail Service. The Irish Mail Service ran to GMT from 1848. Every morning a messenger from the Observatory at Greenwich carried a watch set to the correct GMT, that was handed over to the guard of the mail train at Euston. The train’s arrivals, departures, and station clocks were re-set and strictly observed to GMT as shown on the watch. upon arrival at Holyhead, the watch was handed to the Kingston boat, which carried it to Dublin. It would be handed back to the Greenwich messenger on the return journey, and this practice continued until 1939. Since 1884, Greenwich has been central to the history of WORLD TIME, when the International Meridian Conference voted to make it the location of the Prime Meridian of the world, zero longitude and the basis of the international Time Zone System. Legally, every new day, and therefore also the new Millennium starts at mean midnight at the cross-hairs of the Airy Transit circle telescope at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.