Why it will take 6,000 dead goats to build Britain’s high speed railway

A new UK railway project will indirectly require thousands of dead goats, explains the IanVisits Blog. It’s a matter of vellum:

HS2-curzon-streetIf, or when the High Speed 2 railway is constructed, it will require roughly 6,000 dead goats. This curious statement comes from an old technicality as Acts of Parliament, when passed into law are still printed on vellum, which is typically made from goat skins. Two copies are printed, one for storage in the Victoria Tower, and another is sent to the National Archives in Kew.

Now, it has proven surprisingly difficult to work out the average number of pages of A4 that can be extracted from a single hide of skin, but I finally found a page that uses sheepskins as an example. That shows that the average sheep produces a single sheet that can be folded 8 times to produce 16 sides of vellum of roughly A4 size. All parliamentary bills need to be printed onto vellum, but the reason I am commenting on HS2 though, is because at 49,814 pages in length, the bill is the largest one ever presented to Parliament.

UPDATE: There is some question, raised by vellum-conscious commentators in Britain, as to how many of the pages of the legal document would need to be produced on vellum.

BONUS: What’s the difference between parchment, vellum, and paper? (A non-UK perspective)

BONUS: 300,000 to 450,000 cows per zeppelin, approximately

BONUS: The men who startled goats