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British Industry and the Metric System

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Everyone who gripes about the metric system has contributed to the loss of all UK motor and engineering factories, which continued manufacturing their products designed in inches after 1975.  The job losses since Accession have been published as between 8 and 10 million.  That is a vast national scandal.

The 1964 Wilson government's policy that British Industry would adopt metric units "within ten years" was announced in Parliament on 24th May 1965 by the President of the Board of Trade at that time, Rt Hon Douglas Jay MP through a Parliamentary Written Answer to a question by John Horner, Labour MP for Oldbury and Halesowen.

The reason for this was that the Commonwealth nations started to dismantle the Commonwealth Preference System of trade protection, so that they could import foreign products like FIAT, VW, Renault and Citroen cars and trucks,buses, trains, generators, construction equipment and all kinds of vital products from other countries.  They wanted change from the Mother Country.

British industry, including the UK operations of US industrial companies, was bound to lose its existing market share in the Commonwealth countries, and market share in the home country, as British garage owners and users of transport and industrial equipment started to buy imports in volume.

Certain British companies, particularly BMC centred on Longbridge, thought they were safe concentrating on the North American market, so they ignored the government policy and continued making inch cars.  However, the Annus Horribilis of BMC was 1967, which is recorded in the book "The Leyland Papers" by BBC journalist Graham Turner.  In 1968 the Americans imported 80,000 cars from BMC, but this fell literally to zero over five years to 1973.  It may have been pique by America at the UK joining the European Common Market.  Some of them are resentful people if they are not top dog, as was plainly seen when the UK and France jointly presented Concorde.

British Industry and the Metric System The above market shifts meant that British industry had to find alternative markets to replace losses in its traditional markets.  The major option was the European mainland, which had dropped Whitworth threads, inches and all the things which Britain celebrates and promotes through heritage culture.

The industrial metrication programme was necessary because we depended for the survival of our engineering-based industries on foreign people buying them in volume, who also realised that we were losing our Commonwealth, or at least exclusive terms protecting our trade.  We make a fundamental and fatal mistake by ignoring, shunning, lampooning or despising our European neighbours.  The weakness lies with us, not with them.  UK companies cannot hope to survive if our nation through its media publicly insults its actual and potential customers abroad.  Foreign opinion-formers can read and on TV understand our language, but we cannot comprehend theirs.

The famous British scientists Sir Isaac Newton and James Prescott Joule did their experiments and wrote their theses in English weights and measures.  It was difficult comparing them with the French Academy of Sciences in the 17th century, and our industries based on pounds, feet and inches were prosperous in the British Empire of the 19th Century, through to its demise in 1945.

At the opening of the first motorway (the Preston Bypass) the metric system was introduced on the distance posts along the hard (and sometimes soft!) shoulder, and the Weights and Measures Act of 1st July 1963 for the first time fixed the relationship between the yard and the metre, and the pound and the kilogram in Law.  This would enable us to communicate with equality in science and industry and economic development with our neighbours, but we messed it up and threw it all away. We make nothing, import everything, export nothing, are subservient to all other industrial nations, yet make ourselves out to be successful.  Britain is a nation of complacent leaders, who have been unable to run anything except catering establishments since the Americans dumped us.  They did it first at the Boston Tea party and again in 1968.  More detail can be obtained from the UK Metric Association website.

By: The Metric Crusader


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grumpyoldwoman

grumpyoldwoman

I think a lot of people who complain about the metric system don't realise how easy it is. In the supermarket for example, if something is 54p per 100g then it's £5.40 for a kilo. Before metric you may have had 1oz for 1 shilling and 4 pence; if you wanted to work out how much a pound was you had to multiply by 16, remembering that there were 12 pence in a shilling.

At school I worked in SI units up to my O levels, then did A levels (maths & physics) in metric, so I had experience of both. Then we used to go camping in France most years when the boys were small (didn't want to get into debt paying for package holidays and didn't want to inflict 2 small children on other passengers on a plane, but that's another gripe!) and I got used to buying food in metric in the shops over there.

What I really love about it though is the fact that a cube of water measuring 10cm by 10cm is one litre and weighs one kilo. Such elegant simplicity!
grumpyoldwoman
13th Aug 17 11:08

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Via mobile

Via mobile

Don't forget the English bishop John Wilkins proposed an Imperialdecimalssystem 3 year before the French came up with metric. Too bad politician s never listened
Via mobile
12th Aug 17 09:08

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Crooks

Crooks

Retailers and Super-Marketeers are all trying to rip us off. How many sheets of paper should comprise a roll of loo paper? 200 sheets or 240? 240 of course! Why isn't the EU protecting us from these rip-off merchants? Why doesn't our own government do anything about these crooks?

Weights and Measures are so open to misuse by the unscrupulous.

Ever since civilisation started the selling of short measures was considered to be a capital crime. Chop these peoples hands off!
Crooks
18th Jun 14 02:06

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The Real Issue

The Real Issue

My wife went to the market today and bought one of those so-called healthy option loaves of bread, discounted from £3 to £2. When she got it home I weighed it. It was only 130 grammes. BAH! Why isn't bread sold in this country with its weight plainly obvious? Metric or Imperial I want to know whether I am being cheated.
The Real Issue
26th Apr 14 10:04

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Greed Made Manifest

Greed Made Manifest

My wife was scammed today, and she simply had no idea that she was had. She bought a loaf weighing only 600 grams from M&S. It's weight was poorly marked. It was shaped in a manner which made it look large. Loaves used to be small = 400 grams and large = 800 grams. What the Dickens is a 600 gram loaf?

But why has the government ended control on this? It simply allows us consumers to be cheated by unscrupulous retailers.
Greed Made Manifest
6th Dec 13 03:12

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Are you eating enough?

Are you eating enough?

Mars has said it's putting the kibosh on chocolate bars exceeding 250 calories by the end of 2013. That means the days are numbered for its traditional 2.07 ounce [58 grams] chocolate bar, which weighs in at 280 calories.

BAH!!! [or do I mean BAR?]
Are you eating enough?
22nd Nov 13 02:11

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Nick

Nick

Wagon Wheels used to be the size of a dinner plate. The good ol' days are long gone aren't they? This is what's called inflation. Every sort of 20 years the money loses half of its value. As a result, either prices go up or sizes go down.
Nick
13th Nov 13 03:11

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Metric Cheats

Metric Cheats

I hate people who mislead us with metric measures.

Why are jams now sold in jars of 280 grams and 340 grams, when the standard measure used to to be 1 lb (or 454 grams)? Stop this reduction in size of products!

Do not accept 500 ml drinks, when you want a pint (568 mls)!

Look how the Mars bar is shrinking when they sell packets of it at 40 grams, 58 grams or 2 oz. is the proper size!

Why do they quote cars petrol usage in MPG [Miles Per Gallon] when they sell petrol in litres (1 MPG = 0.425143706 KMs per Litre)?
Metric Cheats
3rd Jun 13 11:06

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Reuel

Reuel

NONE of the metricated countries ever sent anyone to the moon and back alive.
Only one country did and they used the US customary System (almost = the Imperial System). Why is USA a successful country? FREEDOM! And to maintain freedom, metrication is optional.
People should learn & use both systems since the existing land lots, buildings (houses), furnitures, machinery will never become metric magically.
If my existing old house room is 4 yards x 6 yards, I should be able to buy carpets in yards for exact fit. Why waste?
Metrication by compulsion is anti-freedom and "exclusivity" is evil.
People from the UKMA should stop selling "snake-oil" with false data.
Reuel
30th Nov 12 10:11

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Ben

Ben

Columbo:
Can you let us know if Heaven has gone metric please, are they still using good old miles and feet, or maybe rods, perches, chains etc?
Ben
25th Jun 11 06:06

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Ben

Ben

Why do commentators on the television insist in using Kilometre and Metres for distance and height when all road signs, footpath signs etc. are primarily in miles?

What is even more laughable is when a program is filmed in the USA and the participants use miles and the commentators use Kilometres.
Ben
25th Jun 11 12:06

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Masser

Masser

In pursuit of "being British", elements of the media give support to those who wish to retain Imperial Weights and Measures. I believe, it is long overdue, that we stop this nonsense and embrace the metric system and legislation should give us clear guidance. Most of industry has worked, exclusively, in metric for 40 years or more, removing lots of confusion, enabling simpler calculation and giving us compatibility with the countries with which we deal (apart from the US). I have a cake recipe that gives the weight of some ingredients in grams and some in lbs/ozs, how ludicrous is that. I buy timber in metric measures but my tape measure gives prominence to imperial. Some would say "yes, but what about the old folk?". Well we will always have old folk, they, I seem to recall, managed with Monetary Conversion. The current dithering just adds to the confusion.
Masser
24th May 11 08:05

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RGIB

RGIB

The situation in the UK is madness. Just to give examples from my own experience of the last few months:

1. While the joiner making new windows for a kitchen renovation and the builder who would be building the openings were discussing sizes, the joiner used millimetres and the builder used inches. The conversation would have been hilarious if we weren't spending a few tens of thousands of pounds on the project!

2. My wife's new car has a digital dashboard, and the ability to display speed and distance in either miles per hour or km/h (I assume for compatibility with driving on the European mainland). However fuel consumption (actually, fuel economy) is always displayed in miles per gallon and the trip odometer only displays journey distances in miles! WTF? (Should I be grateful that the temperature readout is always in °C and the tyre pressures in the manual are only given in kPa?)

3. Down at my local greengrocers, some of the labels have the metric unit prices in larger print or on top, while some have imperial unit prices more prominently displayed. As the units are not often clearly written, you have to stop and double-check every price to discover whether something is rather cheap or rather expensive! (Oh, and sometimes the conversion is wrong as well. Aaarrrggh!)

4. My nephew and niece are taught metric units, not imperial, at school. I know this because I am a teacher myself and this is what teachers are supposed to teach (though later one one teaches how to convert between metric and common customary units). I was also taught in metric only when I was at school through the 1980s - again, because this was/is the policy. Yet when we asked them how heavy they were recently the answers were in stones! (Needless to say, they don't actually know that stones are made up of pounds, or how many pounds they consist of.)

5. (there's many more, but I've run out of time...)

Why can this country seemingly never just do something properly and move on?
RGIB
11th Jan 11 03:01

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Metric Measures

Metric Measures

I once had to buy an office cupboard. It had to be in metric measure to fit in with the office design. I phoned up an office furniture company in the UK. I asked them "Do you sell cupboards in metric measure? " They said "yes!". "What sizes do you have?" "1829 millimetres!" was the answer.

"1829 mm = 6 feet" I said.

"Yes!" was the reply
Metric Measures
11th Dec 10 09:12

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Jojo Bizarro

Jojo Bizarro

I’ve been out of the USA for so long that I’m now accustomed to thinking in normal (a.k.a. “metric”) units, but the States are still stuck with those weird units.
Jojo Bizarro
26th Sep 10 02:09

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