John Harrison (born 31. März 1693 in Foulby near Wakefield, Yorkshire; † 24. März1776 in London) was a self-educated English clockmaker. He invented the “marine chronometer”, a long-sought device in solving the problem of establishing the East-West position or longitude of a ship at sea, thus revolutionising and extending the possibility of safe long distance sea travel in the “Age of Sail”. The problem was considered so intractable that the British Parliament offered a prize of £ 20,000 (comparable to £2.87 million / €3.65 million / $4.72 million in modern currency) for the solution.
In May of 1714 representations from Her Majesty’s Fleet, Merchants and Merchant-Men demanded the Government encourage the solution of the Longitude problem and in July of that year the Longitude Act was passed offering up to £20,000 for a method of determining Longitude at Sea.
In the mid 1720’s Yorkshire born John Harrison started work on what would be the first of his clocks, H1 that would work on board ships and so solve the Longitude problem. In 1772 after a lifetimes work, culminating in the watch H4, John Harrison was paid the final balance of the £20,000 reward.
In 1999 Sinclair Harding started work on a clock in homage to John Harrison. Nearly 5 years in the making the Sinclair Harding H1 is a wonderful combination of art and fascinating mechanics, all finished to an exquisite standard.
Approximately 3/4 (24″ wide x 18″ deep x 18″ high) of the original size, this still impressive piece puts on show Harrison’s inventions, from the simple yet significant roller mounting of the Spring barrel arbor through the elegance of the Grasshopper escapement to the to the mind-boggling complexity of the Grid Iron compensation mechanism.
Take a trip through the clock, marvel at the genius of John Harrison and the skills of the Sinclair Harding craftsmen.