The onset of foggy mornings and dark evenings reminds us that winter is on its way. Ronnie Cohen has written an article that may just get us thinking of those lazy, hazy days of summer spent on a continental beach (metric measures taken for granted) or perhaps even on an urban beach alongside the North Circular Road in North London.
The Beach Brent Cross was a combined funfair and urban beach opposite Brent Cross Shopping Centre in London that was open from 10 July 2015 until 2 September 2015. I went there shortly after it opened and was pleased to see that it used only metric height measurement boards. These were marked with primary lines in metres and decimetres with figures alongside them and secondary marks in centimetres. They showed the minimum height beside each ride or attraction. All measurements were metric except one – the Bumper Boats specified a maximum weight of 9 stone.
Elsewhere, minimum heights were specified exclusively in metres. These were the minimum heights for the following:
- Alpine Thriller: 1.2 metres
- Aviator: 1.2 metres
- Beach Party Ride: No height restriction
- Beach Party Slide: No height restriction
- Bungee Trampolines: No height restriction
- Carousel: No height restriction
- Donkey Adventure: 1 metre
- Helter Skelter: No height restriction
- Log Flume: 1.2 metres
- London Fun Bus: No height restriction, however, those children less than 1.2 metres tall must be accompanied by an adult.
- Mach 5: 1.4 metres
- Mini Wave Swinger: 1 metre
- Pirate Boat: 1.2 metres
- Racing Coaster: 1.2 metres to ride without an adult, 1 metre to ride with an adult
- Rocking Tug: No height restriction
- Showtime: 1.2 metres
- Thriller Coaster: 1.2 metres
All the specifications of the Alpine Thriller ride were also given exlusively in metric units, including speeds in kilometres per hour, rarely seen in the UK thanks to successive Ministers of Transport since 1970. Here is the ‘Alpine Thriller’ technical information:
- Average Constant Speed: 37 km/h
- Maximum Speed: 97 km/h
- Duration of Ride: 1.3 minutes
- Track Length: 465 metres
- Angle of Ascent: 85%
- Angle of Descent: 60%
- Horizontal Centrifugal Acceleration: 2.5 G
- Vertical Centrifugal Acceleration: 2 G
- Max Declivity on a Curve: 173%
- Structure Height: 18 metres
- Structure Weight: 110 tonnes
- Base Size: 50 m x 20 m
The transportation requirements for the Alpine Thriller equipment was also given entirely in metric, with all measurements given in tonnes and metres.
I salute the staff and management of The Beach Brent Cross for having confidence in the British public to measure themselves in metres without the aid of medieval measures. Given that it is uncommon for Britons to express their height in metres and usually do so in feet and inches (another issue for which our Transport Ministers have been largely responsible), it is reassuring that small children are being encouraged to use international measures to express their height.
There is a general perception by politicians and journalists that Britons cannot understand the use of metres for personal height and need imperial conversions. Of course, this depends on what you are used to. If only they would have more confidence. They should realise that familiarity comes with usage. Britons can adjust to the use of metres for personal height, just as they have adjusted to the use of Celsius for temperatures in weather reports and to grams on the supermarket shelves. Imperial conversions are not only unhelpful to the transition to metric measures but hinder it by encouraging people to pay attention to familiar measures and to ignore the simple, rational and universal ones that should have replaced them.
And for next year’s holiday? Imperial aficionados might want to consider Disneyland in Florida. For the rest of us, the world is our oyster, even perhaps North London.