Longitudes Examined: Tercentenary Conference on the History of the Board of Longitude and the Determination of Longitude at Sea

Friday 25–Saturday 26 July 2014

Lecture Theatre, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

£90 | Concessions: £75 (students and people over 60)

This major international conference marks the 300th anniversary of the passing of the Longitude Act in July 1714. Speakers will explore the broad implications of the enterprises to determine longitude at sea during the following century of activity by the Board of Longitude, until it was dissolved in 1828. The conference will address the themes of reward, exploration, discovery, controversy and excitement that surrounded the longitude projects of the 18th and early 19th centuries. It will explore not only how navigational techniques changed and were put to use, but also the broader cultural and social significance of this work, nationally and internationally.

Longitudes Examined has been organized as part of a major research project, The Board of Longitude 1714–1828: Science, Innovation and Empire in the Georgian World, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The conference coincides with the opening of a new exhibition, Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Each paper will last 30 minutes, with time for discussion led by the chair at the end of each session.

This event is part of the Longitude Season, celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Longitude Act with exhibitions, special events and planetarium shows.

Friday 25 July 2014

10.00: Registration and refreshments

10.45:  Introduction: Richard Dunn, Royal Museums Greenwich

11.00:  Session 1: Technologies of Navigation: Chair: Alexi Baker, University of Cambridge

  • Locating the Chronometer: Jonathan Betts, Royal Museums Greenwich
  • Mathematicians on Board: Introducing Lunar Distances to Life at Sea: Jim Bennett, Science Museum
  • Rockets and the Longitude in the 18th Century: Simon Werrett, UCL

13.00: Lunch

14.00: Session 2: The Culture of Longitude: Chair: Katy Barrett, Royal Museums Greenwich

  • Newton’s F―t, Joe’s Throat, and Scriblerian Projections of Longitude: Greg Lynall, University of Liverpool
  • 'Swelling the Book’: Natural Knowledge and the Potency of Satire in the Early 18th-Century Print Market: Jo Poppleton, University of East Anglia
  • Get the Flamsteed Look: Iconography and the Painted Hall, Greenwich: Richard Johns, University of York

16.00: Curator-Led Tour of Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude exhibition

17.30: Reception, Great Hall, Queen’s House.

Saturday 26 July 2014

09.30: Coffee and tea

10.00: Session 3: Longitude’s Global Context: Chair: Sophie Waring, University of Cambridge

  • 150 Years of Scientific Navigation (1750–1900) in Search of Longitude: a Collective Derangement? Guy Boistel, Centre François Viète, Université de Nantes
  • A Southern Meridian: Astronomical Undertakings in the 18th-Century Spanish Empire: Juan Pimentel, Instituto de Historia, CSIC, Madrid
  • c. 1830: a Time of Transition? Jane Wess, University of Edinburgh

12.00: Lunch

13.00: Session 4: Communities of Practice: Chair: Eóin Phillips, University of Cambridge

  • Industrial Innovation and the Role of the State: Will Ashworth, University of Liverpool
  • All Eyes on the Prize? Collective and Co-Operative Invention in Britain’s Industrial Revolution: Christine Macleod, University of Bristol
  • Government versus Entrepreneurs: Technological Innovation in 18th-Century England, or, The Royal Mint under the Collar?: Joseph Payne, Royal Mint Museum, Llantrisant and Stephen Pumfrey, University of Lancaster

15.00: Coffee and tea

15.30: Session 5: Longitude in its Place: Round Table: Chair: Simon Schaffer, University of Cambridge

  • Anita McConnell, University of Cambridge
  • Charlie Withers, University of Edinburgh
  • Rebekah Higgitt, University of Kent

16.30: Close