Weights and Measures

This building with its rather strange "Weights and Measures" above the door in Horsham has never really piqued my interest before. It's up a road I rarely walk up, but this time when I passed it I decided to find out a little more about it.

If the truth be told my research didn't turn up much beyond this probably being the place where the the town traders weights and measures were checked against the standard ones to stop any malpractice. All the imperial weights and measures were brought into line in the Acts of 1824 and 1878. A 1963 law abolished all the arcane ones apparently. Being of the generation that straddles imperial and metric quite happily and switching between the two as the occasion demands I wondered what these arcane ones might be. I can't shed any light on the origin of their names, but it's been fun unearthing some of the wonderful names. A sample for your delectation [some of these are still used I should add]

chaldron- [used for coal and equal to 36 bushels]
scruple -0.333 of a dram [used by apothecaries]
These ones are from brewing-
tun- 6 barrels
hogshead - 1/4 of a tun
kilderkin- 1/2 barrel
firkin- 1/4 barrel
pin- 1/2 barrel
yard of ale- 2 pints
a few miscellaneous ones
slug- 32.17lb
hand [familiar to many] is 4" but a palm is 3"
and how about a barleycorn....you get three of them to the inch...perhaps I can understand why some of them fell out use!



  1. The German-American bier brewing and drinking culture survives in the American Midwest. So, as a result of heredity or location, or both, I do recognize many of those "archaic" brewing words. :)
    But I do wonder what a "palm" was used to measure? Ponies?

    1. I think palm probably was something to do with equines.


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