Telegraph time ball, Strand, London, 1852.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving taken from the 'Illustrated London News'. The first national electronic time service was introduced by Sir George Bidell Airy (1801-1892), Astronomer Royal and director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory from 1835 to 1881. A master clock, verified each day by stellar observation, sent electric impulses to clocks throughout the country via the growing network of telegraph wires providing for public and railway use. The time ball at the Strand received the impulses hourly from the Central Telegraphy Station of the Electric Telegraph Company.