British Army Tape Measure

Many tools and instruments found with a /|\ mark today date from the Second World War, however the army has continued to buy new examples to replace worn out stock right through to the present day. Although the War Department crows foot marking is less popular than it once was, items with post war dates still often have this mark, and tonight we are taking a look at one such army tape measure:imageThe tape measure is clearly marked with the /|\ stamp, a date of 1971 and a stores number:imageThe opposite side of the tape measure indicates it was made by Rabone Chesterman Ltd:imageOne of the companies forerunners, James Chestermans had been making tape measures for the military since the late nineteenth century, this advert dates from 1891:chesterman-1891-adMy tape measure has a brass winding handle in the centre, marked 33 ft indicating the length of the tape. It folds out to provide a small handle for winding the tape back in with:imageThe tape itself is marked in feet and inches on one side:imageAnd links on the other:imageA link is 66/100 of a foot, or 7.92 inches. The unit is based on Gunter’s chain, a metal chain 66 feet long with 100 links, that was formerly used in land surveying. Even after the original tool was replaced by later instruments of higher precision, the unit itself was commonly used in this application throughout the English-speaking world . The military have been closely associated with map making for many centuries and it seems that the British Army must have continued measuring in links for some map making tasks right up to the 1970s.

1 thought on “British Army Tape Measure

  1. Owen Thompson

    A chain, 22 yards, is, of course, the length of a cricket pitch. And there were 8 chains to the furlong, and 8 furlongs to the mile; similarly there are 8 pints to the gallon and 8 gallons to the bushel.


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