Meridian

There is nothing special about the Greenwich Meridian.

And
yet
there
is
something
very
special
about
it.

I hope my photographs show this clearly. [Peter Marshall talking.]

The photographs and text are copyrighted




[Click here for help.]

This notional and arbitrary circle is their reason for existence.

Why I was there and why I chose to photograph there.

Either I was standing on it or looking at it - if one can stand on or look at an abstraction.

This imaginary line around the globe finds concrete expression for very little of its length. Although it circles the World, as a photographer of London my interests are more limited. At Greenwich tourists stand with one leg in each hemisphere to be photographed astride East and West. A second, older marker on the footpath below lies almost hidden from view, outside the fence of the Observatory which is now a tourist heritage site. Few people notice it let alone stop to photograph.

Hidden on a school in a side street is another marker; again on the north side of the Thames by a bus stop on the wall of a new office block towering above the former docks is a small and seldom noticed plaque. From there no trace surfaces until you reach Pole Hill, Chingford some 11 miles to the north of Greenwich, on which stand two pillars. The smaller is a modern triangulation point erected by the Ordnance Survey. The larger bears a plate with the following inscription:

THIS PILLAR WAS ERECTED IN 1824
UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE
REVEREND JOHN POND, M.A.
ASTRONOMER ROYAL.
IT WAS PLACED ON THE GREENWICH
MERIDIAN AND ITS PURPOSE WAS TO
INDICATE THE DIRECTION OF TRUE
NORTH FROM THE TRANSIT TELESCOPE
OF THE ROYAL OBSERVATORY.
THE GREENWICH MERIDIAN AS CHANGED
IN 1850 & ADOPTED BY INTERNATIONAL
AGREEMENT IN 1884 AS THE LINE OF
ZERO LONGITUDE, PASSES 19 FEET
TO THE EAST OF THIS PILLAR.

This inscription recalls both the arbitrary nature of the meridian and its scientific importance.

It was and could be moved.

The Greenwich meridian was the lever with which the world and the universe were measured

A technical note about panoramic photography.


Before leaving the Greenwich Meridian would you leave your comments. They will be sent to Peter and to Fixing Shadows.


Return to Peter's Top page.
Visit Peter's parent page: Fixing shadows