During the BBC programme “Bells on Sunday”, one of our readers noted that an unfamiliar unit was used to denote the weight of a bell.
He wrote to the BBC as follows:
“Bells on Sunday. I’m a keen listener, however I do NOT like the continued reference to the weight of bells in hundredweights [cwt].
Some might wrongly consider me to be an old person who is familiar with ancient units! The BBC, by continuing to use hundredweights is NOT helping the vast majority of the population who during their school education were taught to use metric units. As far as I’m aware cwt/hundredweight doesn’t appear in any school subject exam syllabus and curriculum material in use today nor in many of the more recent past decades.
Cwt/hundredweights should therefore be archived – forgotten about – and bell weights ONLY expressed in kilograms. The BBC response to this complaint might say it caters for a minority of people who are familiar with the hundredweight. However by doing this it fails in its role to educate the majority and provide meaningful information for those who do know weights in metric.”
The BBC replied:
“Thank you for contacting us about BBC Radio 4’s Bells on Sunday.
We note you are unhappy at the programme using the unit hundredweights to refer to the bells throughout the programme.
We reviewed this with the team at BBC Radio 4 who stated that as bell ringers themselves continue to use hundredweights, they find it practical to include that measurement, as many campanologists appreciate it.
However, they recently quoted both metric tonnes and also hundredweights in the Queen Camel Church broadcast, due to them being a unusually heavy rural ring of 6 bells.
Whilst we hope the above sheds some light as to why the programme refers to hundredweights, we acknowledge you may continue to feel different about this use of measurement in the broadcast. In the meantime, we have ensured both BBC Radio 4 management and the team behind Bells on Sunday are aware of your concerns via our audience feedback report.
These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensures that your complaint has been seen by the right people quickly.
Thank you again for contacting us.”
The imperial hundredweight referred to above is 112 pounds or around 51 kg. Metric Views wonders what units are used in the USA to describe a bell: pounds or perhaps the US hundredweight (100 pounds or around 45 kg).