Sunday, 10 October 2010

Canals and the absurdity of metrication

This sunny Sunday afternoon three of us - Jan, Adrian and I - went on the preserved Mid Norfolk Railway from Wymondham to Dereham and back.

From Wymondham Abbey, to be exact - it would cost the railway society too much to connect to the main line station at Wymondham. The ten or so miles took the diesel train (railbus?) 38 minutes.

Wymondham Abbey from the train

Dereham Station

At Dereham Station we had a cup of tea and some delicious cake in the station tea room, where there was a display of railway artefacts. One was a booklet on metrication as it applied to rail traffic, entitled "Tons and Tonnes".

Canals were built in feet and inches - and miles and furlongs - and escaped metrication, at least during their working lives. Now it's creeping in, by way of BW's insistence on defining boat dimensions in metres rather than feet ...

... and in some ridiculously precise speed limits in kilometres per hour to TWO places of decimals. This sign indicating 6.43 kph - that's 4 mph to you and me - is in Leicester.

Utterly pointless. And absurd.

Even the IWA has been hoodwinked into this: I had to specify Willow's dimensions in metric when booking a mooring at the National Festival this year.

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