Imperial length measurements
Most people are familar with feet and inches, and yards, but what about chains, rods and poles?
These are the imperial measures of length in use in the 1950s.
- 12 inches = 1 foot
- 3 feet = 1 yard
- 6 feet = 1 fathom
- 5½ yards = 1 pole, rod or perch
- 4 poles = 1 chain
- 40 rods = 1 furlong
- 220 yards = 1 furlong
- 8 furlongs = 1 mile (statute mile)
- 1.151 statute miles = 1 geographical mile, nautuical mile or knot
My Dad used to tell me that 1760 yards made a mile as did 5280 feet. He learnt these at school, I grew up with the metric system and did not need to memorise these facts.
We are still not fully metric and distances on UK roads are in miles and yards. The count down on a motorway to the next junction is 300 yards, 200 yards then 100 yards.
If you wanted smaller distances you went to fractions of an inch: halves, quarters, eighths and sixteenths. For smaller measurements still the imperial system reverted to decimal of a kind with thousanths of an inch or thou.
Some common abreviations were.
- Inch - in or "
- foot - ft or '
- yard - yd
Feet, inches and yards fed into the imperial system of measuring area.
- 144 square inches = 1 square foot
- 9 square feet = 1 square yard
- 30¼ square yards = 1 square rod (or 1 square pole or 1 square perch)
- 16 square rods = 1 square chain
- 60 square rods = 1 square rood
- 4 square roods = 1 acre
- 640 acres = 1 square mile
 - source Law's Grocery Manual, fourth edition, published 1949
Retrowow Established 2002
Vintage, retro & social history: articles and collectors' guides