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The Belville's Watch

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

Ruth Belville, also known as the Greenwich time lady[1], was London’s last time carrier. As the title of her job suggests, Belville sold the time to the community of Greenwich for about 50 years, ending in 1939. Belville would start the day off by visiting the Royal Observatory of Greenwich and adjusting the time on her watch to the time of the observatory. The observatory would then give Belville a certificate that would declare the time on her watch as precise and correct. She would then travel around Greenwich with the watch hidden inside a bag and sell the time to businesses and individuals who wanted it. The correct time was essential to many businesses in London, Belville noticed this and reacted by out-pricing any other timekeeper in the area, such as the Post Office. The watch that herself and her family used can be found within the Science Museum in Kensington, London[2]. The Belville family watch is iconic in the history of Greenwich and safely belongs inside the 50 objects that epitomise the area. Time has always been at the pinnacle of Greenwich’s history and the Belville’s family watch is a great example of this.


[1] ‘(2) 108-The Greenwich Time Lady - YouTube’. [2] ‘Where in the World?’

Ruth Belville 1908 at the Royal Observatory Greenwich

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