Premises of (HM) Nautical Almanac Office since its creation in 1832

Overseeing the production of the Almanac was originally the responsibility of the Astronomer Royal. In 1818, while John Pond was Astronomer Royal, this responsibility passed to Thomas Young, holder of the new post of Superintendent, who reported to the Board of Longitude. In 1829 Pond resumed responsibility for the Almanac, retaining it until 1831, when the post of Superintendent passed to William Stratford. It was Stratford, who in 1832, set up the Nautical Almanac Office (NAO) to oversee the Almanac’s production, with the Superintendent now reporting to the Admiralty.

At the start of the reign of King Edward VII (between November 1902 and January 1904), the name of the Office was changed to His Majesty’s Nautical Almanac Office (HMNAO). In 1937, HMNAO became part of the Royal Observatory.  When the Observatory was closed down in 1998, it was transferred to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. In December 2006, it was transferred again, this time to the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office.

 


 

Dates
Address
Notes
1832–1841 Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2 1
1842–1917 3 Verulam Buildings, Gray’s Inn, London, WC1
2
1917–1922 86 Lee Road, London, SE3
2, 3
1922–1939 Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London, SE10 4
1939–1939 Devonport House, King William Walk, Greenwich, London, SE10 5
1939–1941 Laggan, College Road, Bath 6
1941–1948 Block E, Ensleigh Hutments, Lansdowne Hill, Bath
7
1948–1990 Royal Greenwich Observatory, Herstmonceux
1990–1998 Royal Greenwich Observatory, Cambridge
1998–2006 Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
2006– United Kingdom Hydrographic Office, Taunton

 

Notes
1 Somerset House was home to the Navy Board.
2 The move from Gray’s Inn took place on 26 September. At that time, the Superintendent was Philip Cowell, a former Chief Assistant at the Royal Observatory, who lived in Blackheath just a mile and a half away from the new premises. Built as a private house, 86 Lee Road had previously been occupied by the Verheydens who were both dental surgeons. The house is back in residential use, but is now divided.
3 The move from Lee Road took place on 30 August. Cowell was still Superintendent.
4 Formerly known as Greenwich Hospital, now the Old Royal Naval College (ORNC). In his Personal History of HM Nautical Almanac Office, Donald Sadler describes the accomodation when he arrived in 1930. It was on the first floor of the King Charles Building (the most westerly of the two blocks adjacent to the river). It consisted of: one long narrow room used by the Superintendent and, when necessary, by his shorthand-typist; a large light room, communicating with the Superintendent’s room, often occupied by 6 or 7 staff and a largish, square, dark room on the opposite side of the stairway. In addition there were two large store rooms on the mezzanine floor and a small machine room, which housed the Burroughs Class II two-register printing/adding machine. Heating in the main rooms was by open fires attended to by the messenger. There were toilet facilities for men, but the women had to use those in another building. Another room with a small window was allocated soon after Sadler’s arrival followed by a number of rooms on the second floor.
5 Devonport House was a nurse’s home attached to the Seamen’s Hospital. Largely built between 1925 & 1934 as an extension to the pre-existing eighteenth and nineteenth century infirmary of the Royal Hospital School, it is now in joint use as student accommodation and as a hotel and conference centre. The move from the Naval College was necessary, partly because the College needed the space back and partly because HMNAO required more space rather than less. As things turned out, HMNAO was only in Devonport House for a few weeks during August and September.
6 With the outbreak of war, the Office was evacuated from London towards the end of September. Laggan was a private house requisitioned by the Admiralty; it is now known as Laggan House and is divided into flats.
7 The Ensleigh Hutments were one of three sets of wartime hutments constructed for the Admiralty in Bath. The Ensleigh Hutments consisted of five blocks (A–E).

 

From left to right, 3, 4 & 5 Verualm Buildings, Gray's Inn in October 2015

 

86 Lee Road in October 2015

 

The King Charles Building of the Royal Naval College, home of HM Nautical Almanac Office from 1922–1939. From an anonymously published postcard posted in 1914

 

Devonport House c.1950. From a postcard (K599) published by Valentine's

 

The north front of Devonport House in October 2015

 

Laggan (now known as Laggan House) in 2011

 

Three of the twelve spurs of Block E, Ensleigh in 2011