Tom Scott

Britain once forgot how long an inch is

In 1834, Parliament burned down, and the Standards of Measurement were melted or destroyed. So when there’s no agreed-upon standard for length: how do you fix it? Also: how you can still publicly check the length of your sandwich.

Filmed safely:

There’s a correction to this video: the fraction on screen at 00:49 should be 1/299792458. Looks like I copied and pasted an extra 1 and didn’t realise it. Apologies. You can see all the corrections for this channel at

Story research by Jess Jewell

Report of the Commissioners Appointed to Consider the Steps to Be Taken for Restoration of the Standards of Weight and Measure, 1841,

A Collection of the General Public Statutes, 1855,

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