As noticed by the Greenwich Phantom, whose spectral representative stands next to the Greenwich Observatory, the Observatory will start charging a fee to go inside the museum complex from the beginning of March.
A full £10 no less.
While many people will indeed visit the place for the museum and the observatory, it is fairly well accepted that the vast majority turn up so that they can visit the site which gave its name to the Prime Meridian, and stand in the courtyard where a line is marked in the ground to indicate the division between East and West.
£10 to stand on a bit of tarmac and have a photo taken?
Obviously, what the museum is counting on is that people will forget that the Meridian isn’t a short line that only exists within the gated confines of the Observatory, but runs all the way down the planet from the North to the South poles. There is a thousand miles of land that you can pick from on which to stand and get that classic photo of straddling the Meridian. All free of charge.
OK, not quite as iconic as being at the site, but £10 for a photo?
If you want to stand over the Meridian elsewhere and have something to signify the fact, then there are also the Meridian Markers that were dropped along the line eleven years ago as part of the over-hyped and underwhelming celebrations of the 2000th birthday of some foreign chap. Such as this one that sits on the desolate pathway behind the Dome.
As it happens with quite a lot of London museum that charge an entrance fee, the £10 includes unlimited return visits, so great for us locals, but a steep cost for the one-off visitor who never plans to return. I will expect hotels to buy a batch of tickets each year and “lend” them to their guests for visits.
The new charge comes into effect on 8th March 2011, so we have about 6 weeks to make a last free visit before the paywall comes down at the Gates to Time.