Railway clock, 1840-1880.
© National Railway Museum / Science & Society Picture Library -- All rights reserved
The inscription on the face of this clock made by W Avison reads 'Railway Time, York'. Until the 19th century, each town in Britiain had its own local time, based on reading noon as read on a sundial. This meant that there were small time differences acros the country. For example, when it as noon in Bristol, it would be 12.11 in London, 110 miles to the east. The rapid expansion of the railway network in the 1840s and the asociated requirement for accurate timetables meant that a standard time was necesary throughout Britain. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), was adopted as the standard, which became known as 'Railway Time'. It was adopted at all stations in 1847, but the Government did not make standard time law for the country at large until 1880.