HARBOUR, HONG KONG, 20th Feb 2017 – Coinciding with 1884 establishment of Greenwich Time (GMT) time ball tower in Harbour in Hong Kong was constructed in the same year with the very important function of disseminating accurate standard time to the marine community.
The location was chosen as ideal most-prominent location, being visible and almost equidistant from over 200 degrees of the Harhour, full of the hundreds of ships that arrived in the Harbour each week.
“The time ball might be erected on any commanding point which fulfils the indispensable condition of being well seen from and to end of the Harbou. The Tsim-sna-Tsui police station seems the natural place for the Time-Ball mast. The police station will shortly be moved a little further back on the plateau which now occupies, so as to clear the War Department limits. The best plan, in that case, will be to let the small building and mast for the Time-Ball be made an adjunct to the Police Station” reported Major H.S. Plamer in 1881.
A six-foot diameter Time-Ball was eventually mounted in a pole above time tower (A time-ball and oropping system have been reconstructed and installed.) The ball would be raised manually and dropped at 1:00pm sharp (this procedure was repeated every day except for Sundays and public holidays), so that the marine vessels gathered in the Harbour could synchronize their on board chronometers at the sight of the drop of the ball. The accuracy of the time was meticulously verified and checked by the scientists at the Hong Kong Observatory (which was set up in 1883) before such information on were transmitted to this Time-Ball tower via telegraph wire. As one of the crucial pieces of information for navigation in the olden days was keeping accurate time in order to determine a ship’s position, and a one minute error could resulting ships straying may miles off course or sinking this “Time Service” provided by the Time-Ball tower was of life saving importance to the many trading vessels within frequented the harbor of Hong Kong and had no doubt played its part in contribution to Hong Kong’s role as a significant entrepot.
The time-ball served its function admirably from 1885 until 1907 on 7th December 1907, the time call was moved to Signa Hill in Tsin-Sha-Tsui ending the historic mission of time-Ball Tower. The time ball on top of this Time-Ball Tower has been reconstructed based on detailed studies of Time-Ball tower in Greenwich, UK, Cyttelton, New Zealand, and Sydney, Australia and on records of the Hong Kong Observatory.
Such historical parameters are very simple to understand and also represent today’s complexity in simple form too. The internet is nowadays central point of not only local and national but also of international affair too to determine destination, movement and thoughts and how the Internet would be transformed and mediate the vessel of communication in future are answerable understanding such historical incident in an anthropologically and carefully.