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A nautical stroll in London's Greenwich.

A nautical stroll in London's Greenwich

Slow-paced sightseeing with a nautical twist awaits visitors in the quiet London suburb of Greenwich, which still bears the imprint of royal patronage. Antique time-keeping instruments at the Old Royal Observatory, naval history at the National Maritime Museum, and the clipper ship Cutty Sark are some of the sights near one of England's oldest parks. Greenwich is a 20-minute train ride from London's Charing Cross Station, or a 45-minute boat ride down the Thames from Charing Cross Pier (summer sailings from 10 A.M., last return at 5:30 P.M.). As you debark, check on guided walks at the Tourist Information Centre on Greenwich Church Street, just right of the Cutty Sark. By the river is Sir Francis Chichester's yacht Gipsy Moth IV. His 226-day solo voyage around the world in 1966-67 included 119 days at sea on the 15,517-mile Sydney-to-Plymouth passage. Cutty Sark was built for the China tea trade, back when speedy arrival with the first tea of the season brought owners enormous profits. The advent of steamships helped retire her to the Australian wool trade. Walk the ship's deck to learn her history, peek into living quarters. Admission is about $3. King William Walk leads uphill to the National Maritime Museum. Excellent museum displays depict the history of ships, naval battles, commercial shipping. A special exhibit on Captain James Cook runs through October 1. Inigo Jones' 1637 Queen's House is incorporated into the museum and reopens May 2. It has been totally restored during the last five years. Admission is $5. A day pass to Queen's House, the museum, and the observatory is about $8.50. Continue up through Greenwich Park. Monarchs back to Henry VIII have enjoyed its broad expanse. At the Old Royal Observatory, the red ball on top of Christopher Wren's Flamsteed House still drops at 1 P.M.; in centuries past, ships on the Thames used it to note the time and correct any errors in their instruments. Here are astrolabes, orreries, and beautiful chronometers; next door are antique quadrants, sextants, and telescopes. In the courtyard you can walk the prime meridian--0 [degree] longitude--and enjoy views of London and the Thames.

PHOTO : Resting in dry dock near the Thames, Cutty Sark has 10 miles of rigging on her masts;

PHOTO : visitors are welcome aboard

PHOTO : Regal figureheads--brightly painted ladies and gentlemen from bygone sailing ships--now

PHOTO : fill Cutty Sark's hold

PHOTO : Straddling east and west, schoolchildren walk the prime meridian at the Old Royal

PHOTO : Observatory

PHOTO : Maritime museum is at foot of Greenwich Park; path leads to observatory
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Date:Apr 1, 1990
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