Once towns in their own right, Deptford and Greenwich are now part of the easternmost edge of the metropolitan area on the southern side of the Thames. Deptford is dominated by shipping and train transportation. Several rail lines come together at New Cross Station, on the western edge of Deptford. Deptford is a working and middle-class neighbourhood. Instead of being commuters into London, many of the workers here have jobs in Rotherhithe, in Deptford, or in Greenwich.
There is a large contingent of workers who are employed by the military in Deptford. At the southernmost end of the dockyards and on the edge of Deptford, is the Royal Victualing Yard. Here naval vessels are supplied with coal, cannon, and ammunition from the nearby Woolwich Armoury and Proving Grounds, and there is a wealth of work for manual labour. There are some soldiers that live in the cheap tenements here when they aren’t assigned to barracks at Woolwich, home of the Royal Engineers and the Artillery Corps’ training grounds. Sailors and of cer trainees sometimes like in Deptford, in addition to the Victualing Yards, Greenwich hosts the Royal Naval School and the massive Greenwich Hospital, which specializes in care of soldiers and sailors. There is a wealth of work for groundskeepers at the Greenwich Park a massive public park attached to the Naval School, and location for the Greenwich Observatory – where the prime meridian runs through, splitting east from west.
Royal Greenwich Observatory (x)
Commissioned in 1675 by Charles II, the observatory’s original mission was to observe the heavens “so as to find out the so much desired longitude of places for the perfecting of the art of navigation.” The main building is Flamsteed House, a building designed by Christopher Wren (John Flamsteed was the name of the rst Royal Astronomer at the observatory). The red brick building is elegant, and the windows and trim are whitewashed brick. Various domes give the place an almost gingerbread house feel. It was constructed from the remnants of Duke Humphrey’s town, and is in actuality thirteen degrees off alignment with true north. In the Octagon Room, two clocks built by Thomas Tompion keep the time with an accuracy of seven seconds a day!
The observatory was concerned early on with discovering how to measure longitude. In 1884, an international conference makes Greenwich Observatory the prime meridian for longitude (until this point, the there was some disagreement on zero degree. This meant some maps published in America or France were not consistent with those of the Admiralty and created navigational problems). A long brass strip in the park, the Airy transit circle, marks zero longitude. Her Majesty’s Nautical Almanac Of ce is here, and keeps track of official naval time.