Tuesday 31 July 2012

From Greenwich with love.

New Anzac, or Peacehaven as it's now known has the singular (and I use the word deliberately) distinction of having the Prime Meridian pass through it. On its long journey around the world this imaginary but important line passes through Peacehaven and on through France and Africa until it eventually comes knocking at the back door of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich again. 

Charles Neville, the 'founder' of Peacehaven saw, as he did in most things, a PR opportunity of being able to walk from one hemisphere to the other in his 'Garden City by the Sea', and duly erected a wooden structure looking much like an oil drilling well-head. This was replaced by the slightly more tasteful monument shown here. Neville himself unveiled this and due to cliff erosion it has been moved twice since then. Quite what the health-giving or social benefits are to be gained from cross-hemispherical perambulations has yet to be discovered by medical science, but, as was so often the case, Neville was ahead of his time. All I know is that it's possible to play darts between the East and West in a certain establishment there. Who knows, maybe there is, right in the microscopic centre, a piece of international no-mans-land where all the world's disputes could be settled. Or not.


Peter Ashley said...

Brilliant Jon. I remember looking at a house in Greenwich that was for sale in the 1980s that had the meridian separating the front room from the back room. And do you know, the estate agent put a premium on the fact. Fancy that.

Philip Wilkinson said...

The meridian passes through the town of Louth in Lincolnshire, where a number of my relatives live, and also goes very near to the Lincolnshire village where I was born, but I cannot, alas, claim that my mother straddled the line when she gave birth to me.