Metric Humbug! Museum Which Celebrates British Life in 1913 Is Barred from Selling Sweets by the Quarter

Daily Mail (London), March 3, 2000 | Go to article overview

Metric Humbug! Museum Which Celebrates British Life in 1913 Is Barred from Selling Sweets by the Quarter


Byline: NEIL SEARS

BEAMISH Museum brings the halcyon days before the First World War back to life.

The full-size recreation of a working colliery village recalls a time when Britain stood proudly apart from Europe.

Even there, however, there is no escape from the tentacles of Brussels.

After a raid by trading standards officers, the 1913-style sweetshop at the museum in County Durham has been banned from selling humbugs and cinder toffee in traditional quarter-pound bags.

Instead, schoolchildren and other visitors immersed in history are suddenly confronted with bizarre signs advertising prices per 113 grammes, the metric equivalent of an imperial quarter-pound.

Staff at the sweetshop have only one word for it: Humbug. But they have been forced to comply under the threat of a [pounds sterling]5,000 fine.

Museum spokesman Jacki Winstanley said it had been forced to rewrite history when the law on weights and measures changed on January 1.

'This is very unfortunate but sadly it is the law,' she said.

'Like every other retailer we are now obliged to display our weights in metric - even in a period shop in a museum.

'Pounds and ounces don't mean anything to young people, but grammes don't mean anything to older people either. The older people remember buying two ounces of Black Bullets and expect they can do the same here.

'It would have been nice if we could have kept them because it would still be in keeping with the rest of the museum, but even we have to move with the times.' Celia Glover, 50, has worked in the sweet shop at Beamish for six years.

She said: 'Unfortunately we've got no choice but to change to metric.

'We have to comply, although I will find it difficult because I am used to working in pounds and ounces. This is one of the few places where children come across pounds and ounces - and they shouldn't deny them that. …

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