Modular metric magic

OR A Tale of Over Forty Years of Dimensional Co-ordination in UK Kitchens

An article in the recent UKMA newsletter by the Editor on renovating his kitchen has prompted one of our regular contributors, John Frewen-Lord, to relate his own recent experiences doing the same thing, and how the use of metric units has saved enormous amounts of time and money in the process.

The UK construction industry converted to SI units of measurement around 1972, and by the mid-1970s, pretty well everything was in metric, including kitchens. Although I cannot find any specific references saying as much, I seem to remember that all manufacturers of kitchen cabinetry in the UK (as they did in Canada when it went metric) agreed to common standards and dimensions – not only widths, heights and depths of cabinet units, drawers and doors, but including things like hinge fixing points, drawer track location holes and the like. Has it made life easier? Indeed it has (and certainly cheaper as well), and I have two recent examples to prove this.

The first example relates to a tenanted house my wife and I own. It was bought with tenants already living in it, and so we had no opportunity at the time to improve it. Recently the tenants moved out, and it was obvious the kitchen needed some major TLC, with the chipboard (particleboard) cabinets disintegrating in places, doors hanging off their hinges, and so on. The house was built in 1976, and some preliminary investigation showed that it was timber stud framed (having lived for so long in Canada, something I am very comfortable with), with studs at exactly 400 mm on centre, and most dimensions in nicely rounded metric increments.

With new tenants ready to move in, we made the decision to install a brand new kitchen, and noticed that B&Q had a range on offer at very good prices. I sat down with their kitchen planning department in my local store, and, having given them the dimensions of the existing kitchen (in mm of course), they came up with this rendering on their planning software of what the new kitchen might look like.

B&Q render
B&Q render

What was particularly gratifying was that, even though the arrangement of cabinets was being extensively changed, everything (once assembled – it all came flat-packed) fitted into the existing spaces created 40 years ago to the precise millimetre, and all based on an exact 100 mm module. All cabinet units came in 300, 400, 500, 600 and 1000 widths, with doors to the same nominal dimensions (actual door dimensions were 3 mm less, and two 500 doors were used in the 1000 cabinets). Doing all the calculations and setting out using purely integer millimetres took a fraction of the time it would have taken using cumbersome feet, inches and fractions of an inch. At no point did I have to modify any cabinets, or have any gaps left over (well, there was one place where a cabinet was out by 1 mm for some reason). The following pictures show before-and-after views. As can be seen, the reality (all installed by myself single-handedly, and still not quite complete when these photos were taken) is pretty close to the software rendering above.

Before and after -1
Before and after -1
Before and after - 2
Before and after – 2

We liked the design of the cabinets so much that we decided to refresh our own rather dated kitchen in the same style. In this case, our cabinets themselves were in excellent condition, and only the doors and drawer fronts needed replacing. This kitchen, so the previous owners of the house had told us, was installed in 1981 or 1982, making it around 34 years old. Would the new doors, etc., fit?

Again, the foresight of standardising kitchens all those years ago using a hard metric module (in a Britain that was only starting to embrace metrication) shone through. Almost (but not quite) everything was a straight one-for-one replacement. There were however a couple of minor issues:

  1. The pre-drilled hinge sockets on the new doors were differently located compared to the old doors. However, it turned out that the hinge brackets on the cabinets needed only turning through 180 degrees to align with the hinges on the new doors – i.e. one of the existing mounting holes was still good, with one new hole required, for each bracket.
  2. The pre-drilled pilot screw holes for the hinges on the doors (designed of course for B&Q’s own hinge product) differed by 2 mm from the screw holes in the existing hinges that I took off from the old doors. With 24 doors, that meant a total of 96 new pilot holes to be drilled! The hinges themselves fit perfectly into the pre-drilled sockets.

The following pictures show a few before-and after views.

Before and after - 3
Before and after – 3

In the ‘before’ shot above, the 390 mm high door above the oven unit with a filler panel between it and the oven unit was not available in the new style. I had to move the oven unit down by 10 mm and remove the filler panel to get a new standard 450 mm high door to fit.

Before and after - 4
Before and after – 4

The top 160 mm drawer front was a straight replacement. The lower 160 mm and 390 mm drawer fronts were replaced by two 275 mm units. The total height remained exactly the same.

Before and after - 5
Before and after – 5

B&Q didn’t do a 300 mm wide wine rack – but they did do a 150 mm one. Two of those screwed together fit perfectly in the exact same space – width, height and depth to the fraction of a millimetre.

Finally, I added soft-close closers to the cabinets. They each fit perfectly with two large grub screws screwed into holes already pre-drilled into the cabinet sides – holes drilled some 34 years earlier!

Very different styles, totally different manufacturers, and 34 years between them. Yet it all fits together almost completely seamlessly, and all to that magic 100 mm metric module. In my own kitchen, that saved me a huge amount of time, and cost as well – if nothing had fitted, then the entire kitchen would have needed replacing, for many times what it actually did cost. That surely shows the very positive economic value of going metric, in a world that today is 95%+ metric.

35 thoughts on “Modular metric magic”

  1. The title of the article should be just “Modular magic” as the fact that in this case the units are metric is irrelevant.

    The same “magic” occurs where standard imperial sizes have cross-industry recognition too. Think car tyres. And because tyre manufacturers (unlike kitchen unit manufacturers) did not drop imperial sizes in the 1970s, you can still get tyres that fit pre-1970s cars too!

    You are lucky your house was built after the metrication of kitchen units, because if it was one of the millions built to the previous standards, you might now be cursing the massive economic waste caused by that metrication. Luckily, tyre manufacturers weren’t so short-sighted.


  2. I am grateful to John for writing this article as it provides me with an opportunity to tell my kitchen story.

    When we bought our house in 1976, it still had the original kitchen, almost unchanged from 1934 with Belfast sink and freestanding coal-burning stove for hot water.

    By 1978 we could afford a new kitchen, and the choice was between imperial and metric. Kitchens in the 1930’s were often quite small – ours is 3.6 x 2.2 m – and I gave a great deal of thought about how to fit everything in, before choosing a metric kitchen from John Lewis. Their kitchen planner came to see us, made a few suggestions, and went away to produce a plan which was printed on a dye line machine – no computer rendering then.

    The kitchen is still with us, and indeed I saw one with identical materials and colours in a showroom last year, so clearly kitchen fashion has gone full circle.

    During the life of the kitchen we have had three washing machines, all nominally 60 cm wide, three dishwashers ditto, and two under-worktop fridges ditto. All were exchanged without problems. Our slot-in cooker in 1980 was imperial, nominally 20” wide and our under-worktop freezer 23” wide. When the time came to replace the cooker with one 60 cm wide, we replaced the freezer at the same time with a narrower one, cut 90 mm off the worktop, and moved sideways the base unit between them. There is no visible evidence of this modification, and we have since had two new slot-in cookers, both 60 cm wide.

    With a global market in domestic appliances, this has, like John’s kitchen, been an example of modular metric magic.

    It is sometimes forgotten that when the construction industry went metric in the early 1970s, an attempt was made to improve modular co-ordination, based on a 300 mm module. Some products proved impossible, such as residential doors, but success was achieved with many others including, for example, kitchens, plasterboard and bricks (4 bricks high with mortar equals one module, 4 bricks wide equals three modules).


  3. I think that the point Charlie P has missed here is that, thanks to the use of metric in this case has given access to a wider market place without the risk that a single item may not fit; Britain has access to a global market of kitchen products that may not have been available, British manufacturers have the benefit of a larger market too.

    Retaining imperial in this case would have ensured that us Brits would have continued to pay a premium for products produced specifically for the British marketplace (or, at worse, high import costs from the only other non-metric mass market on the planet), a premium ensured by the fact that manufacturers on both side of the fence wanting to trade in the other would have to cover the cost of specialised production lines. Either that or we would end up with kitchens with gaps and lots of additional custom work in order to fit odd-sized electricals in between units.

    I for one am glad I don’t live in that world.

    Tyres are a very poor example of this. Given the size and tolerances involved, tyre sizes could quite probably (and may well even already be) expressed in the factory in metric with the inch size being no more than a nominal “size” in much the same way as the inch continues to be used in TV screen sizes (I note that in many cases the “inch” measurement on the box is usually inexact when measured since it actually refers to the old CRT size whereas the metric specification always seems to be precise and refers to the visible area).

    More and more the inch is being used as nothing more than a way to describe a metric size for those who are too stubborn to move with the times.


  4. @ Charlie P says:2016-01-08 at 08:57

    Of course modular construction would work, even in cubits and rods.
    In this instance, in fact the module size was something other than 600 mm, as with electrical equipment cabinets.
    However, despite the world in my youth being around 75% Imperial Empire, and Imperial being used throughout and well beyond that empire, one has to ask why did it all change?
    Well, a lot of the Empire states still exist one way or another, so that was not the reason for change.
    France did not suddenly rule the world and force a new system on every nation.
    The dreaded EU did not Jackboot the world into submissive use of an alien new system of measures.
    There was no Borg assimilation of all the states of planet Earth.
    No wealthy nation gave out bribes for all the poorer countries of the planet to go metric.
    So, maybe change came about a different way. Perhaps change came through logic, reason or practicability issues?
    Others can speculate as to why the world changed from Imperial enslavement to a rational system of internationally agreed unit of measures.
    For me it was just common sense, an easier way to do things.


  5. @Charlie P:

    You say that the choice of units is irrelevant. In a purely abstract sense, you are correct. But we don’t live in an abstract world. We live in a world where products and installations work best when they can relate to each other in a real (rather than abstract) way.

    The choice back in the early 1970s was whether British kitchen manufacturers stayed with imperial measurements (and any modular co-ordination that might have existed), or switched to the metric system. This country (along with many other countries, such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and others) had decided, correctly, that conversion to SI was the way of the future. With considerable foresight, kitchen manufacturers not only converted to the metric system, but used that process to rationalise the dimensional co-ordination of their products. It was a decision that, as I hope my article demonstrates, has reaped huge economic benefits over the years. And that is what metrication is about in the end – adding a positive economic value to the country’s GDP.


  6. Not sure what you’ve heard or how much you think that you know about Canada, but their construction industry is largely Imperial, almost as much as ours. In fact, a lot of the forced metric changes from the ’70s and ’80s is changing BACK, and a lot of the Imperial sizes that were removed have not been replaced with metric, but with USC sizes, like our gallons for paint. We still use the old “d” nail sizing system, based on nail price per English penny (1/4″ increments) probably back from the 18th century days. Canada uses straight inches for nail lengths instead of having to know the arbitrary cost in 18th century pence and how long a nail that bought. A minor inconvenience, though, and the more pence the longer the nail. We will probably end up dropping it like Canada, eventually, but meanwhile it’s mostly just an interesting historical curiosity. Besides Canada being more inch-based with nails than even the US, calling it a metricated country for construction is bogus, either ignorant or deliberate propaganda/misinformation. The Canadian radio we monitor continually references carpet in square feet, square feet of floor space, acres of land, indicating a heavily-Imperial industry indistinguishable from the US’s with the nail exception. The Caribbean is the same, with Imperial or USC users, and Mexico is heavily influenced by the US economy, both in their products and what they get from the US that flows across the border in the other direction. You guys want to convert your scales and signs. Well good luck “converting” all the houses built in Imperial, except on paper. Call it 304.8mm until you’re blue in the face; it’s still a foot unless the wood warps.


  7. Very interesting article…

    And, while metric standardisation and modularity has effectively been achieved on some fronts, on others sadly it is still almost totally absent: for example, electrical plugs and sockets, which in Europe and in the world are rather chaotic for their useless diversity, to say the least; or telephone numbers (ironically, in the US they are more rational and standardised than in Europe); or “zip” codes and address formats; or date and time formats (at least, the 24-hour clock should be adopted everywhere); etc. etc.

    It would of course make sense to standardise also all those things, because they are of a “technical” nature, so to speak; and thus would benefit from simplicity and uniformity, all over the world.

    But with no ideals and visions (and – incredibly, for a “rich” world – with less and less “public” resources), almost nothing is probably going to change, on this front – sadly…


  8. @ACWM:

    “Not sure what you’ve heard or how much you think that you know about Canada…”

    Well, as a Canadian citizen, and having worked in Canada’s construction industry for over 30 years, I might have picked up the odd bit of knowledge about it here and there.

    Back in the 1970s, the construction industry did go metric, and, especially in the ICI sector, stayed metric for many years. I worked for many years for the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction, and all of its standards were 100% metric – in fact, the Canadian Limits States Design mandatory engineering standard works ONLY in metric.

    But then came Brian Mulroney, Canadian Federal PM, and the original Free Trade Agreement, masterminded by Mulroney. Under huge pressure from the USA, and overriding his own negotiator, Simon Reisman, he sold Canada down the (Detroit?) river to the US, proudly claiming “Canada is open for business” (and in the process dismantling the necessary protections from a predatory USA that was ten times larger).

    With most of the laws, regulations and standards that Canada has created now on the waste-heap, it was only to be expected that a brash USA, with total disdain and disregard for Canada as it was, would trample over what made Canada Canada, including its metrication program. Canadian manufacturers (those that were left after the US had bought most of them and then closed them down) had little choice but to follow the US lead, including reverting to Imperial measurements.

    On my last visit there, there is still much that is metric. (And I still have my pre-construction cost estimate that I prepared for the Bracebridge Memorial Hospital – all metric, as was required by the Ontario Ministry of Health, and prepared in 1999). In talking to my family and the many friends I have there, there appears to be little appetite for further reversion to imperial. Like the UK, Canada seems to have resigned itself to the current muddle. But everyone I know there recognises that, the USA notwithstanding, we live in a metric world, and the country must not lose sight of that.


  9. Frustratingly, the Americans for Customary Weight and Measure’s contribution to this discussion was strong on rhetoric but short on actual evidence about Canada or the Caribbean.

    By comparison, if you buy paint in Australia you buy it by the litre, as can be seen here:

    If you buy carpet or other floor covering in Australia, you measure up in square metres, as with this calculator: This is quite different to the floor calculator in one UK store which gave the option for calculating the area in square feet or square metres. or a Canadian example which is only in square feet:

    The internet provides clear evidence about the units of measure used in various countries. I think it is incumbent on those who put up an argument about usage to provide evidence to justify their claims.


  10. Since all the kitchen unit manufacturers in Europe appear to have agreed certain standards, the average Briton (and German, Frenchman, Spaniard, Italian etc) have a much wider range of fitted white goods (fridges, cookers etc) from which they can choose when planning their kitchens. Likewise they can mix-and-match kitchen units.


  11. Kindly note that the Daily Telegraph perversely continue to use “kph” as the abbreviation of kilometres per hour.
    Where’s the metre, Muppets?


  12. Why is it “ironic” that Europe is less rational and standardized than the US, in many respects.

    Your mind is blown by that, would it make much sense if every US state spoke a different language? THAT is Europe.

    THOSE differences are pointless.

    Preferring USC measures is NOT one of those pointless differences. Changing for the sake of change and uniformity, with a massive infrastructure, and one of the world’s largest landmasses measured entirely in an already-established system is bureaucratic bullshit, pardon my French. It is a change that is completely counterproductive, that improves NOTHING, and actually creates more problems than it solves. Houses are already built. Land is already surveyed, and parts already are in place, on a massive scale, that requires the continued availability, long-term of USC parts.

    You apparently completely ignored my comments on Canadian construction industry. Don’t know whether Frewen-Lord is deliberately lying or merely ignorant, but I encourage you to call a Canadian Hardware Store if you don’t believe me as to what they stock.

    Good luck getting almost 400 million people to drop the system two countries are built on so the NUMBERS ON YOUR SPREADSHEET ARE NEATER! ?

    You’re going to hate us not fitting your stereotype, here: I favor day, month year, or year, month, day and 24-hour time format. I use it in almost all of my communication, unless it’s a form that won’t allow it.


  13. The comments from the ACWM are typical of an organisation seeing itself on the losing side. It knows very well that metric countries like Germany and China are slowly but surely destabilizing the US economy until it completely collapses.

    Question is, will USC and imperial be able to survive a collapse of the US economy? Will a dominant China or Germany permit either the US or Canada to continue to function in USC. Despite what the ACWM says about Canada, they omit that Canadian products don’t add imperial or USC to the metric declarations on packages.

    Some products are already starting to deviate from USC hidden sizes. One that comes to mind is paint. Here is an American company, Home Depot, selling paint in 3.6 L cans. Is 3.6 L the new US gallon?

    Of course to complement the 3.6 L, the new quarter size is only 900 mL:

    and not just paint:

    My contacts in México tell me the opposite of what the ACWM is saying. They are buying fewer and fewer American industrial products. They are buying more and more from Asia, especially China, and Europe. Much cheaper, more modern and better quality. American quality is not what it use to be.

    Can ACWM tell us for sure which gallon is referenced in this Amazon ad:

    and why all of the details at the bottom are metric?

    The reason some prefer to use USC or imperial or both is to confuse. They hope to profit by other people’s ignorance.


  14. A globalised world should – I’d even say must – have shared technical standards: measurements is one of those common standards; and it happens that the most up-to-date and rational system is SI, even if of course it could be largely improved: but let’s first adopt it everywhere!

    If the USA did like Australia decades ago, it would actually be quite easy to go all metric, within just some years.

    Bureaucracy is indeed an evil thing, but here we are talking much more about technical standards – which are a very good thing (IMHO, at least).

    It’s the political will – (un)motivated also by the indifference of the general population (people often don’t even have the time to think, sadly; etc. etc.) – that’s lacking: political and social changes indeed require some form of vision of the future, also this sadly lacking.

    In politics, it cannot be everything just about (saving) money, making the interests of corporations, and so on; there must be something more important, something visionary: for example, envisaging a federally unified world with a common measurement system, based on the SI (and beyond); and many other good things, of course (which require some new form of ideality à la “we the people”, etc. etc., sadly almost totally lacking today).

    In a few words: unless citizens really want and desire progress, politicians aren’t certainly going to do anything positive!


  15. My point about providing evidence for claims seems to have been ignored. The Canadian construction industry may use imperial or metric measures or both, but if someone is going to make a claim one way or another, please provide the evidence.

    When Australia changed to the metric system, the whole of Australia had already been surveyed in imperial measures. Nevertheless, the Government was convinced that it was in the interest of the country to convert to metric, and the change occurred without any great problem. Yes, the conversion of land measures was more difficult but the change still went ahead.

    For evidence, I refer people to “Metrication in Australia” which can be found on the internet:

    Throughout most of the world, countries changed to the metric system. In most cases it was to replace the chaos of conflicting and inconsistent measures that existed in most European countries before they adopted the metric system. However, with the Imperial and US systems, they at least had some consistency. Here the superiority of the metric measures still carried weight.

    For example, there is an inconsistency between the International Mile and the US Survey Mile. Adopting the metric system would overcome this inconsistency.

    Working in a decimal system is easier, and not just in spreadsheets. Also, if you don’t convert to the metric system you still have to use it for scientific and medical research.

    That doesn’t mean that the metric system is perfect or without problems. However, it is better than the imperial and USC systems. That’s why it has been adopted through most of the world.


  16. I certainly understand the argument that the primary benefit is that goods are modular sizes (ie if one company made 400mm wide, another 450mm wide, another 525mm wide etc, then it would not help that they were metric).

    Nevertheless, I am very glad that I have grown up in Australia which has used the metric system since the 70s when I was born. Certainly there must still be some awareness of the old system (I have drill bits in both sizes just in case) but I also recently renovated our kitchen and of course every person involved did all work in metric. More so, the tradesmen involved were a mix of born and bred Aussies, and immigrants from South Africa, New Zealand, England and maybe some Mediterranean countries. I am pretty sure that everyone except the plumber from England would have grown up in a fully metric system – imagine what a hassle it would have been for him to switch systems at the time he moved countries!


  17. Well, our last response took a week to appear, and omitted that it was directed at Sven.

    Don’t we get the same time allowance, Michael? Also, why does the burden of proof “prove they aren’t metric” rest on our shoulders, while often-repeated myths and fallacies, like “The EU did nothing to get the UK to go metric,” or “only the US, Liberia and Burma (Myanmar) haven’t adopted metric” are repeated and perpetuated as proven facts?

    We love it when that “fact” is quoted by the UK Metric Association. Why is there a UK Metric Association then?


  18. I note that Americans for Customary Weight and Measure feels singled out because I expect him, her or them to provide evidence for the claims they make. I agree that unsubstantiated claims, whether they are pro or anti-metric are less than helpful.

    First of all, it’s the CIA that claims that only the US, Liberia and Myanmar are not metric. See

    Secondly, where’s your evidence that pro-metric people made the claim that the EU did nothing to get the UK to go metric? Please supply it.


  19. For all practical purposes, bicycle tyres have been specified in metric for a long time. ISO 5775 and its predecessors were necessary to reconcile the three or more, mutually-contradictory, imperial labelling `standards’ which used to exist. The result, contrary to what Charlie P would have us believe, is that you can still buy tyres to fit on rims from the pre-1870s, let alone the pre-1970s! However, some of the less popular sizes might not be available from stock :-).


  20. Sure, “Ministers Metrication Conspiracy.” (Sept. 2015). I don’t believe there’s a PDF online yet.

    It’s been quoted here on

    Further, whether it’s common knowledge or not, it ought to be. There’s extensive referencing of the use of USC and Imperial volumes, distances, and areas on Wikipedia.

    There are links to dozens of newspapers and articles as verification. If you’re interested in woldwide measurement as opposed to drinking UKMA’s propaganda, it’s easy to find, despite decades of attempts to deliverately bury it.

    We are hesitant to put effort into posting it here, as we recall detailed responses, IN THIS VERY VENUE that were “never approved” and were “disappeared.”. A similar thing happened when our group was interviewed for a Burmese article. When we pointed out all o the countries that still are not metric besides the “famous three,” the journalist, Nicholas Kohler, seemed to stop listening, abruptly ended the interview, and altered “Only the US, Liberia, and Myanmar haven’t gone metric” to “It is said that only the US, Liberia etc.”. So we’re hesitant to put in our own work when it nets these sorts of results.

    There are 15-20 countries using USC and Imperial. Canada isn’t metricated. For instance their railroads are all miles, racetracks. Their product size regulations actually mandate har Imperial volumes in many cases. It’s been posted here, whether successfully or not, many times. Why should we have to continually provide sources and “proof” when our past work remains ignored or is never approved, even censored out?


  21. ACWM writes: ” Canada isn’t metricated.”

    The most blindingly obvious thing on driving across the border from the USA to Canada is that the road signs are metric – and start to make sense. Your claim that Canada is not metricated beggards belief.


  22. Why provide sources? For the simple reason that it demonstrates good faith. For example you say that Canada isn’t metricated. However, the evidence suggests otherwise:
    * Road signs are clearly metric. See
    * This article from CBC News gives the price of fruit and vegetables by the kilogram:
    * Canadian food regulations appear to insist on metric labelling.

    Canadian railways may measure their tracks in miles, but to state that you would need to demonstrate that this is so. Ditto for race tracks. However, to show that this is true you would have to refer to a reliable source.

    You complain about not being published. One reason for this may be that your statements are not verified, and when they are verifiable they are quite often wrong. Instead of blaming others, I suggest you lift your game and cite your sources.


  23. Having been to Canada twice in the last 2 years I can confirm that Canada IS metric but clearly suffers the same problems as us… the combination of a minority who are either unwilling to change or have no reason to along with the strong influence from the dominant English-speaking country south of their border.

    Yes you do occasionally hear feet, inches and miles in speech there and yes you’ll occasionally see a sign advertising a new warehouse in cubic feet and yes you do see lb, oz, pint, quart and other such things on goods in the shops. But only because of influence from south of the border. Sadly even much of the entertainment produced in Canada does not use metric as much as it should because to sell it had to target a US audience.

    I do think you could answer that Canada has a similar mess to us but it’s not as obvious because the road signs are the most visible aspect of a countrys system of measurement to those who do not actually live there. Most tourists will see little of what is sold in DIY stores and supermarkets but signage and advertising isn’t something that can be missed hence why, to many, Britain would not seem obviously metric in the same way as Canada might.

    The more I think about this the more I am certain that we will only begin to see significant progress towards completion in the shorter term if the USA makes a move away from customary measures.


  24. ACWM:
    Sorry, but a conspiracy theory by BWMA, grown men who spend their spare time defacing road signs, is hardly firm evidence of EU involvement in forcing metrication on Britain. Personally I would give more credence to reports of Elvis being alive and running a tea shop on Mars than anything put out by that lot.
    Of course the EU wants Britain, a member of the EU, to use the same rational system of measurement as the rest of the world (USA, Liberia, Myanmar and places like Tristan da Cunha excepted). EU partners may not share a common language, but sharing the same metrology is easily achievable and makes perfect common sense.
    Sad to say it, but I think the EU SHOULD have forced the UK to properly complete the conversion to SI units begun in 1965 and still dragging on. Present day British politicians haven’t got the stomach for any form of leadership. They’re more concerned with retaining populist votes than doing anything visionary or constructive for the country.
    BTW: Loved the “A remittance of at least £1 would be appreciated” begging note on the Campaign for an Independent Britain website. They must have raised at least ten pounds by now.


  25. “Your claim that Canada is not metricated beggards belief.” -So by this method of thinking, the UK is all Imperial because of its road signs?

    You’re talking out both sides of your mouth.

    Canada is a mix. In some ways it’s more metric, than the US, in others it’s actually less. A lot of their bottle sizes require hard Imperial.

    And if you’re too lazy to go back and read the links I’ve provided probably dozens of times, right here in MetricViews, no offense, that’s entirely on you. I’m not going to do your research for you.


  26. @Michael Glass
    You seem to be suggesting that Canada is metricated, and that you have shown evidence of that. What evidence? All you presented was evidence that:
    1. Canadian speed limits are posted in km/h
    2. That one CBC news report gave fruit and veg prices per kg
    3. That the Canadian Food Inspection Agency uses some metric measures on one of its web pages.

    I respectfully suggest that those 3 isolated examples prove nothing, other than perhaps that Canada is no longer entirely Imperial/USC. Further, even if the Canadian establishment does prefer metric and even if it states that it does, that still doesn’t prove that Canada is anything other than partially metricated.

    Clearly, to prove the statement “Canada is metricated” is true (rather than merely that “Canada is partially metricated”) you need to provide evidence to show that Imperial/USC is no longer used anywhere in Canada for any purpose.


  27. Charlie, I provided links to show that the claim “Canada isn’t metricated” is not in accordance with the facts. I have not contested the assertion that Canada still uses Imperial measures in some area. What I have asked for is evidence to back up these assertions.

    You say that my examples are “isolated.” Really?

    Having all the road signs metricated is hardly an isolated example.

    You say that Canada is partially metricated. To demonstrate that you would need to give examples of things that are metricated and things that are not. That’s all I’m asking you to do because bald assertions simply don’t cut it.


  28. I can provide similarly-anecdotal information from Canadian Radio Station CKSY, near the border, which is available for all to hear via internet streaming.

    I was listening and heard this ad.: 12- and 24-” tile at so many cents or dollars (CDN, obviously) per square foot. No mention of metric whatsoever.

    I have also heard “21-oz drink” and so many inch subs from their subway (that’s 21 Imperial fluid ounces, whereas the drink size is 20 US fl. oz.), mile walks (albeit alongside “K” runs, their words), pizzas in inches, carpet in square feet, and food by the pound. And I don’t listen every day, just occasionally.

    This is due to the proximity to the U.S. border, but they give weather in Celsius followed by Fahrenheit as well when they do a full forecast, though the abbreviated ones are just Celsius. And, again, that’s more due to their proximity with Detroit? Think that’s the nearest U.S. city to them.

    Also completely anecdotal, but listening to the radio, very very mixed. In many ways they are MORE Imperial than the UK. Their construction, carpeting, tiling seems to be entirely Imperial.


  29. @ Charlie P

    I have never heard the usage in France myself, but a few contributors to these discussions have claimed that people still ask for a ‘livre'(‘pound’) of something in shops and markets. Applying your threshold (traditional measures are no longer used anywhere for any purpose) to determine whether or not a country is metric (= ‘metricated’) in its everyday life, I am unable to claim that France is a metric country. If I were to say that to a French person, I would be told I was mad.


  30. To all the above posters who are arguing about whether Canada is metricated or not. Having lived there for over 30 years, of which the most recent 25 encompassed Canada’s metrication program, and having been a member of a federal metrication sector sub-committee, I can speak with just a little authority.

    Canada did become almost totally metricated. I once worked for a house builder in the late 1970s whose house designs were completely metric, to a 400 mm module, requiring plywood and drywall sheets to be 1200 x 2400 mm, which were at the time being produced for the Canadian market, and were easily available at little or no premium over the old imperial sizes.

    The changeover to metric road signs was a major program, as was the requirement to list all retail quantities in metric units. Yes, there were pockets of opposition, but for the most part, the job was done – likened by a Canadian pro-metric politician to being a giant snowball, almost at the top of the hill, and requiring just one little push to send it down the other side.

    But then came the original Free Trade Agreement with the USA, ca. 1990. And rather than the snowball going over the other side of the hill, the USA forced Canada to let it roll backwards. All in the name of ‘harmonisation’ – which is a euphemism for Americanisation. Any requirement for metric sizing of products was deemed (by the USA) as a non-tariff barrier. Which is of course a complete mis-use of the concept of the NTB – a NTB is generally held to be a barrier which is applied to imports but which home-produced products are exempt from. However, being that the USA was ten times larger than Canada, no prizes for guessing who got their way.

    Regardless, Canadian manufacturers were then faced with the prospect of having to set up two product lines for a huge array of goods – a metric one for Canada and a non-metric one for the USA. This was not economically viable, and so one by one Canadian-made products gradually reverted to American sizes. I say reverted – but even that is not completely true. The Imperial gallon (4.54 L) and other fluid measurements were the only official ones in Canada. They disappeared on metrication, but, for example, the gallon that is now on sale in Canada is the American 3.78 L one. I assume other fluid quantities seen today in Canada (the pint, the fluid ounce, etc) are also the American ones. Whether they have been made legal or not I don’t know – they didn’t use to be.

    So that is the position Canada finds itself in – officially metric in most sectors of its economy, but in practice forced to revert to non-metric over a wide spectrum of goods and services in order to trade with the USA. In talking to friends and family in Canada, it is something they regret but are resigned to – Canada’s economy is too dependent on the USA for anything else.


  31. Any American or Englishman who would venture to Canada would be convinced Canada is predominately metric. They would experience metric road signs, metric weather, metric only labels on products in the markets, metric scales, metric hospitals, etc.

    They may encounter some use of non-metric but for an American who never would experience in the US what they would experience in Canada, it would be a problem. They would have to constantly convert back and forth.

    Seeing and hearing weather reports like this fully in metric with an “American” accent would make any American wonder what happened to Kansas. To make it simple, what the world sees is what the world perceives and what Canada projects to the world is a fully country.


  32. [Dear moderator, please discard my previous incomplete post (I fumbled the keyboard) and replace it with this one]

    Michael Glass says:

    1. ‘I provided links to show that the claim “Canada isn’t metricated” is not in accordance with the facts.’

    2. “I have not contested the assertion that Canada still uses Imperial measures in some area.”

    The two statements are mutually exclusive – if Canada were metricated that would implicitly that imperial measures were no longer used in any areas.


  33. Charlie’s comment is both clever and nonsensical. He wrote: “…if Canada were metricated that would implicitly that imperial measures were no longer used in any areas.”

    This could only be true if the reverse applied: that if Canada was not metricated then imperial measures were used in every area.

    Both comments are equally wrong.

    The truth is that Canada uses metric measures for some things and Imperial measures for other things. We might disagree about the relative significance of usage or the quality of the evidence, but it is clear that usage varies in Canada and virtually everywhere else.

    Australia and New Zealand are overwhelmingly metric, but there are still areas where imperial measures are still be used. The United States is largely non-metric, but there are very significant areas where metric measures are used in everyday life, like the width of tyres and the size of wine bottles and 2 later bottles of soft drink. And, of course, there is the use of metric measures by the US armed forces and in scientific research.


  34. Charlie’s comment is clever but nonsensical. He wrote: “…if Canada were metricated that would implicitly that imperial measures were no longer used in any areas.”

    This could only be true if the reverse applied: that if Canada was not metricated then imperial measures were used in every area.

    Both comments are equally wrong.

    Canada uses metric measures for some things and Imperial measures for other things. We might disagree about the relative significance of usage or the quality of the evidence, but it is clear that usage varies in Canada and virtually everywhere else.

    Australia and New Zealand are overwhelmingly metric, but there are still areas where imperial measures are still used. The United States is largely non-metric, but there are very significant areas where metric measures are used in everyday life, like the width of tyres and the size of wine bottles and 2 litre bottles of soft drink. And, of course, there is the use of metric measures by the US armed forces and in scientific research.

    When we talk about usage we need evidence. Playing silly semantic games is a waste of time.


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