It was 135 years ago this month that the International Meridian Conference held in Washington, DC, declared the Greenwich meridian to be the prime meridian of the world.
The conference had been held at the request US President Chester A Arthur with the aim of finding a “common zero of longitude and standard of time reckoning throughout the world”.
Pressure to designate such a prime meridian had been building thanks to the need for navigation purposes as well as the need to create uniform train timetables.
Twenty-six nations were represented at the 1884 conference including Great Britain and the US as well as France, Russia, Germany, Japan, and the Ottoman Empire.
The resolution, fixing Greenwich as the Prime Meridian, was passed on 22nd October. The delegations voted 22 in favour to one against. San Domingo, now called the Dominican Republic, voted against while France and Brazil abstained.
As a result of the decision, the International Date Line was drawn up and the world’s 24 time zones were created.
North America and most European nations had aligned their clocks with Greenwich with 10 years.
The official mean time clock at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, is known as the Shepherd Gate Clock.
PICTURE: The Shepherd Gate Clock at the Royal Observatory (Alvesgaspar/licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)