“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Getting the Measure of Trafalgar

Have you ever sat in Trafalgar Square on the steps below the National Gallery and munched your lunch? Many tourists do this every day and what most of them won’t have realised is that they are resting their feet on the standard imperial measures of length! These standard measures, which were installed in 1876, are cast in brass and are set into the granite stonework of the steps.

So next time you happen to be in Trafalgar Square you can always check the length of a foot, a yard, or a chain and the size of a perch or a pole (amongst others) as measured at 62 degrees Fahrenheit.

The National Gallery.
A pole or perch.
A yard.
Three feet.
A hundred links.
Eighty links.
Temperature notice.
If you do sit on the steps below the National Gallery you may also notice a black door in a plinth, which leads to what is often referred to as "the world’s smallest police station". This former police post was reportedly hollowed out of the existing stone plinth (circa 1930) to allow a police officer to be stationed in Trafalgar Square around the clock. Trafalgar Square has always been a common meeting place for protest groups, and it is believed that the police post allowed any trouble to be monitored. The police post was reported to have been installed with a telephone and a direct line to Scotland Yard, enabling support to be called quickly to deal with any emerging trouble.

The smallest police station in the world?

Pictures, London (May 2012).

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