
More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

imperial weights and measures


The standards in use in Britain until the 1980s, when they began to be replaced by the metric system for *weight and fluid *volume (some imperial measures of *length, such as the mile, are proving more tenacious). Until the 18C, weights and measures were a chaotic collection of local standards, many of them extremely ancient. By the early 19C the imperial measurements had become general, but they were not precisely defined in their eventual form until later in the century.




The word 'imperial' was first applied to a new gallon of 277.4 cubic inches, introduced in 1824; it replaced two existing gallons, the wine gallon of 231 cubic inches (which is still the gallon of the USA) and the ale gallon of 282 cubic inches. The measurements of length and weight were scientifically established in the Weights and Measures Act of 1878. This put an end to the old system of *troy weight, except for jewels and precious metals.



