Ruth Belville, the Woman Who Sold Time

From 1836 to 1940, the Bellville family of London operated a business of letting people know the time. Ruth Bellville, the most famous member of that family, walked around London with a high grade watch that had been set to within one tenth of a second of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. For a fee, she'd tell you the current time:

Clients checked their timepieces against the Belvilles' silver "chronometer", which was called Arnold after its maker, and paid for the privilege.

Such was the reliability of Ruth Belville and Arnold as distributors of GMT that competition from the electric signals of the Standard Time Company could not put them out of business, despite a "dirty tricks" campaign, through lecture halls and newspapers, to undermine Ruth's old-fashioned practice.


Belville continued to ply her trade up to the age of 86, including making the twelve-mile journey on foot to Greenwich.

Link -via Nerdcore | Photo: Futility Closet

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"""Belville continued to ply her trade up to the age of 86, including making the twelve-mile journey on foot to Greenwich."""

I don't know where these people lived, but twelve miles from Greenwich in the least out-of-the-way direction is Castelnau. Not as bad as I thought (Hunslow), but its still strange to set up your business so far way. Then again, so many people commute from as far as Brighton nowadays. These guys must have been early adopters.
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