The Anonymous Widower

Memories Of Althorpe

On The way to Cleethorpes, I passed through Althorpe station.

This Google Map shows the area.


  1. The River Trent flowing South to North.
  2. Keadby power station at the top of the map.
  3. Althorpe station close to the bridge over the river.
  4. The village of Althorpe is at the South of the map by the river.

C and myself had friends, who farmed much of the land in the curve of river, South of the railway.

These are a few tales, some might enjoy.

Althorpe And Princess Diana’s Grave

I was once told, that regularly tourists would appear looking for the last resting place of Princess Diana.

Sat-navs may be a wonderful gadget for some, but they do lead those with a certain lack of common sense on wild goose chases.

C And The Tug-Boats

C once spent a night in their farmhouse, which was by the River Trent.

She didn’t sleep well, as tug-boats pulling barges were constantly going past and sounding their sirens. The river was actually above the house, due to the embankments to stop flooding.

Princess Anne And The Centrefold

Our friends’ daughter was a very good rider in eventing and used to supplement her variable income in the sport with modelling. At one point, I used her for some promotional shots for one of my companies.

Some years ago, she was competing at an event in Yorkshire. Coincidentally, this was just after she had appeared as the centrefold in a well-known men’s magazine.

The event was a bit of a nightmare for her, as paparazzi were following her with open copies of the magazine.

At one point, it all got a bit much, so she decided to sneak back to the calm of her horsebox, by a circuitous route.

As she walked back, she encountered Princess Anne, who was also competing and using the same route to avoid the paparazzi.

They talked about the pressures of the paparazzi, who were being a nuisance, with the Princess saying, she approved of my friends’ daughter’s modelling and hoped it continued, as it had taken the pressure off herself.


My friends’ farm was not far from Flixborough, which is infamous for the Flixborough Disaster in 1974, when a chemical plant exploded and killed 28 people and seriously injured a further 36.

My friends also lost several thousand pigs because of the explosion.

Wikipedia says this about the cause of the explosion.

The disaster involved (and may well have been caused by) a hasty modification. There was no on-site senior manager with mechanical engineering expertise (virtually all the plant management had chemical engineering qualifications); mechanical engineering issues with the modification were overlooked by the managers who approved it, nor was the severity of the potential consequences of its failure appreciated.

At the time, I had just left ICI and I was still in contact with my former colleagues.

One told me, that he had met a Senior ICI Engineer, who had been involved with the enquiry into the disaster.

The plant had been a copy of a Dutch plant, that had been built to metric units, which were converted to Imperial to build the Flixborough plant.

As ICI had used metric units since the mid-1950s, there was considerable alarm in the mind of the Senior Engineer, that when the hasty modification was made, someone got mixed up.

Would the Flixborough disaster have happened, if the plant had been built as a copy of the Dutch plant using metric units?


September 26, 2020 Posted by | Design, Sport, Transport, World | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

German Pipe Fittings

On my trip back from Stockholm, between Osnabruck and Cologne, I sat next to a German electrical engineer.

He astounded me at one point, by saying that German pipe fittings on industrial plants were in Imperial units.

I have been unable to check on the Internet, but I assume it is true and is probably down to American influence.

July 1, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | 4 Comments

The First Metric Railway In The UK

I just found this small piece of trivia on the Wikipedia entry for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

The Tyne and Wear Metro was the first railway in the UK to operate using the metric system; all its speeds and distances are stated in metric units only.

Do you think I should tell UKIP?

November 11, 2012 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Liverpool University’s Metric Signs

All of the fingerposts around the campus at Liverpool University are metric.

I’ve never seen so many metric signs in the UK. Even Liverpool council avoids the argument by using minutes, as one picture shows.

November 4, 2012 Posted by | Transport, World | , , | Leave a comment

Standardising With Europe

The clock change highlights how we don’t have the same time as Europe, although we do generally change for summer time on the same day.

Although I poked fun at the European rules for hairdressers, I do think in most things we should be in line with most of the continent.

  1. I never use Imperial measurements and in fact don’t have anything other than metric rulers in my house.
  2. I work totally in Centigrade, although sometimes I have been known to quote temperature in Scottish units or Degrees Kelvin.  But that’s really only an extension of Centigrade related to Absolute Zero.
  3. My father once said that we should have changed to driving on the right-hand side of the road after the Second World War. It should have been done, but it’s too late to change now.

Interestingly, both trains and aircraft are left-hand-drive in the UK.


October 28, 2012 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lord Howe Says We Should Metricate

Lord Howe is being quoted in an article on the BBC, that we should complete metrication of the UK before the Olympics.

He’s right of course!

I never use Imperial units and even have a steel tape, that has no Imperial on it.

May 16, 2012 Posted by | News, World | | Leave a comment


On Drive on BBC Radio 5 Live, they got talking about decimalisation. I sent them my four pennies-worth

My eldest son was in the births in The Times for the 20th July 1969, the day Apollo 11  landed on the moon.  Incidentally, that day the paper carried a report on decimalisation, which would happen on February 15th 1971 and metrication, which was to be completed by 1984. The first happened on time and I’m still waiting for the second.

I suspect I’ll be long dead before we do the sane and sensible thing and metricate.

March 27, 2012 Posted by | News, World | , | Leave a comment

The French are Complaining

According to The Times, the French are complaining that the official Olympic brochure is not available in French.

But if you do put it into French, do you use French French, which I can read or Canadian French, which I can’t and a lot of  French people  from France have been known to laugh at in the same way we treat American English.

In my view there might be a more serious problem on the various Olympic sites. All sports with the exception of football, cricket and one or two others are performed with respect to metric units. Even rugby talks about 10 and 22 metre lines!

So do we put up the signs inside the Olympic park with yards or metres.  As most of the competitors and spectators, think a yard is somewhere to keep your rubbish, we should use metres.

But I bet we don’t!

The only place I know in the UK, with metric signposts, is Liverpool University’s campus.

There is an e-petition on metrication here.

For those who are against this on account of it’s not the British thing to use metric units. I have never used Imperial units in business and don’t ever use them to measure anything.  My eldest child will be 43 this year and he didn’t even learn about Imperial units at school.

So why do we keep them?

March 17, 2012 Posted by | News | , , , | Leave a comment

Kaletsky on America

Anatole Kaletsky in The Times is one of my favourite commentators and I usually read what he says.

Today’s missive, The New World is slipping behind the times, is unlikely to go down very well with those conservative Republicans whose main aim seems to be to take America back to the good old days, when men were men and preachers were preachers.  Women, blacks and other second class citizens did what they were told.

This paragraph is one of many, that doesn’t pull any punches.

The US is the only major country not even to have considered adopting the metric system, and which still uses fahrenheit instead of celsius and refuses to publish railway and airline timetables using the 24-hour clock. And then there are the scarily anachronistic social views, ranging from the death penalty to creationism over evolution.

America is going down a very small dead-end. We had better not follow them!

You have to admire Kaletsky to get the death penalty, metrication and evolution in one paragraph.

January 11, 2012 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

The Last Imperial Legacy in the United States

A letter in The Times yesterday, explains why a city block in the US is the size it is.

City blocks, and indeed much of North America, were laid out in imperial measurements, many of which are still used today

 Sir, Tim Teeman said in the Saturday Review on Aug 13th states that “200ft is the length of a city block”. Not so: it is 198ft, because that equals 66 yards or 3 chains or 12 rods, the units by which the whole of North America was surveyed and laid out, within the system of customary measures that still prevails there and survives unofficially in Britain. 

I suspect that very few measurements in English cities, towns and the countryside are just how they were originally laid out or modified. They’ve just done the pavements outside my house, and I suspect the road is now about a centimetre narrower, as they’ve replaced the kerbs round the trees, which of course have grown since they were last replaced. I wonder if the Dutch company worked to Imperial or Metric units.  I suspect that if they measured everything, it was the latter, but I suspect most of it was well done using the Mark One eyeball.

August 17, 2011 Posted by | News | , | Leave a comment