Campaign to rename Humberside Airport after watchmaker

Humberside Airport Image copyright Tony emptage
Image caption Humberside Airport is close to John Harrison's home in North Lincolnshire

Campaigners are hoping to have Humberside Airport renamed in honour of a local man who invented a clock that allowed accurate navigation.

They want the airport to be named after John Harrison, who invented the longitude watch in the 18th Century.

Harrison lived in the village of Barrow-upon-Humber, less than 10 miles (16km) from the airport.

The airport said it had no plans to change the Humberside name and it was not the right time do so.

One of the campaigners Dr Robert Jaggs-Fowler described Harrison as a "remarkable man".

Harrison developed highly accurate timepieces as part of a competition run by the British Admiralty to provide an accurate method of navigation for naval ships.

His watches were incredibly reliable, losing only a few seconds over a long sea journey.

By knowing the correct time, a navigator could calculate a vessel's longitude, its east/west position.

'Moon and beyond'

Despite his innovations, Harrison was denied the prize money by the government for solving the longitude problem, although he did receive other payments for his work.

He died in 1776 at the age of 83.

The campaign, run by the John Harrison Foundation, said it was appropriate to rename the airport to mark the 300th anniversary of the establishment of the longitude prize, which was set up by Queen Anne in 1714.

Dr Jaggs-Fowler said Harrison's invention "saved thousands of lives".

"Simply because he enabled people to find longitude," he said.

"And from that, as Neil Armstrong, our man on the moon said, it enabled mankind to go forward and not just find their way across the seas but in the skies and ultimately to the moon and beyond."

The airport's commercial director Paul Litton said, although John Harrison's achievements deserved wider recognition, "it was not the right time" to change the airport's name in light of increasing investment in the region.

"We need to link the airport clearly to the Humber area," he said.

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