60 km Jubilee Greenway to be signed in imperial

On 9th June 1977, the Queen officially opened the Silver Jubilee Walkway, a 21 km walking trail around central London to mark her Silver Jubilee, or 25 years on the throne. Thirty-three years later, work is under way to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a new 60 km walking trail, the Jubilee Greenway, providing walkers with a kilometre to walk for every year of the Queen’s reign.

Hugo Vickers, chairman of the Jubilee Walkway Trust, told the Evening Standard that “as soon as we at the Jubilee Walkway Trust heard that the Olympic Games would take place in London in 2012, the same year as the Diamond Jubilee, we dreamed up a new route for London, 60 kilometres — one for every year of the Queen’s reign — to help people walk to the main Olympic sites. It will also leave a lasting memorial to the Diamond Jubilee.”

The route will take in many of central London’s main sights as well as the Olympic Park at Stratford, and sections of the Thames Path, and will be marked with 60 illuminated beacons.

Sadly the 60 kilometres of the new trail will not actually be signed as such despite walkers’ reliance on kilometre-based Ordnance Survey mapping. This is due to the insistence of the Department for Transport (DfT) that, despite more than 30 years of metric teaching in schools, the British are not considered to be ready to see signs in metres and kilometres.

While some enlightened authorities erect informal signs in kilometres (understandable to British walkers and tourists alike) while others prefer to use signs that visitors can’t understand, the DfT is introducing yet a third system of hours and minutes for walking and cycling signs – which are of limited value to anybody not walking or cycling at the assumed speed (see this article).

Many others, knowing that foreign visitors are not familiar with imperial units, that journey times are useless for anyone slower or faster than the assumed speed, and that metric units are not permitted on official signs, choose to do without distances (or times) at all.

So two systems are permitted by the DfT, but not the one which is most readily understood by those who need to follow them.

6 thoughts on “60 km Jubilee Greenway to be signed in imperial”

  1. Is the route to be signed in Imperial (as the heading states, which I presume would refer to “miles” or “yards”) or with hours and minutes? I’m a bit confused here …


  2. I hope the Queen would prefer the distances to be shown in metric not imperial units. Has she been asked?


  3. Here’s a bit of irony: the official website of the British Monarchy uses metric units.

    For example, the dimensions of Buckingham Palace are given as:

    “Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms. These include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. In measurements, the building is 108 metres long across the front, 120 metres deep (including the central quadrangle) and 24 metres high.”

    Taken from http://www.royal.gov.uk/TheRoyalResidences/BuckinghamPalace/BuckinghamPalace.aspx

    Even dimensions that were originally in Imperial have been converted to metric only, as in:

    “The oldest car in the [royal] fleet is the Phantom IV, built in 1950, 5.76 litre with a straight eight engine and a Mulliner body. ”

    Searching the rest of the site did turn up a few mentions of “miles” (including once in parentheses after the metric value), though I don’t count the nautical miles listed for the royal yacht. 🙂

    So, a bit of a mixed bag … which I guess shouldn’t really surprise anyone.

    Still, if Her Majesty can describe her official residence in metric only, shouldn’t that imply that metric should be good enough for her loyal subjects?


  4. Perhaps this is the time to lobby the relevant authorities to mark off the years (which, of course, would be in kilometres) but also to put plaques on the way of some of the dramatic happenings during the Queen’s long reign. For example, the climbing of Mt Everest on 29 May 1953, the four minute mile on 6 May 1954, the births of Prince Andrew and Edward, joining the Common Market, 11 September 2001, the deaths of Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother and so on until the Olympic Games in her diamond jubilee year.

    Marking these spots on the 60km walk, in proportion, would make a 60km walk like a walk through the last 60 years. If the idea caught on it would be enormously popular. Indeed, you could even have every fourth year a couple of metres longer, just to mark the leap year.

    It would then turn the 60km walk into something even greater. Think about it!


  5. Maybe every 8 km there could be a 5 mile marker alongside for those who insist on imperial measures.This would leave an odd half km at the end, which could be laid out as 1,640.42 feet or 99.42 rods or 1,093.61 cubits, for the diehards who really like awkward numbers.


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