Retro: Recalling the days of the weights and measures men

The weights and measures men carry out their inspections
The weights and measures men carry out their inspections

Notts County Council celebrates its 125th anniversary this month and one of its first services was weights and measures checking which is still going strong in the 21st Century in the form of trading standards

The weights and measures inspector’s role involved checking the weights and measuring equipment in market places, shops and pubs as well as testing foods to ensure they were correctly labelled and not containing inappropriate ingredients.

In their first three months of the council, the two weights and measures inspectors devoted more time to testing weights and measures, which included the checking of 379 weights and measures, 519 shops and pubs and 22 food samples forwarded for analysis.

The type of products tested over the years changed and in 1914 goods such as gin, beer, butter, cocoa, pepper, rice and flour were analysed.

A report to the council’s weights and measures committee in April 1914 noted that the number of traders substituting margarine for butter had dropped.

It also noted that margarine had improved in taste and included oils such as whale, linseed and cotton-seed.

By 1939 the number of samples taken was around 5,000 per year which was mainly (88 per cent) made up of milk samples but also included testing of tinned peaches, baked beans and custard powder.

The council’s trading standards team has broadened its role in the 21st century to address non-food related consumer issues such as internet scams, doorstep crime, dangerous electrical items and the mis-selling of products and services.

Our picture shows the early days of trading standards as the weights and measures men carry out an inspection.