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10 random Herefordshire facts you may not know
Updated 9:58am Thursday 10th April 2014 in News
1. Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Cookie monster and Yoda – born in Herefordshire they were.
That is, Hollywod director, Emmy-winning co-creator, voice over star and puppeteer in a raft of Muppet productions, as well as the creator and voice behind Yoda in the Star Wars trilogy, Frank Oz, was born in Herefordshire in 1944.
As well as Muppet movies and TV shows, his countless film credits as a puppet performer include Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
And his credits as a director include: Little Shop of Horrors, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Bowfinger, What about Bob, and The Stepford Wives.
And frankly, if we want to claim him as our own - regardless of him moving to the US when he was five - then we shall.
Frank Oz, Miss Piggy, Fozzy and Yoda. Herefordians you are....And Miss Piggy isn't the only blonde bombshell on our list.
2. Jesus Christ Superstar was born in Herefordshire – Creators Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber(below) - battling out for that illusive hit were holed up in a small county hotel during the late 60s where they thrashed out the main body of what would become one of the most famous rock operas in history.
Was it the fine Herefordshire air that did the trick?
Either way, we think the county should take some credit for a concept album that spawned a movie and scores of stage productions over four decades, grossing millions. Or perhaps not? Depends on whether you're a fan or not.
3. Now Herefordshire hasn't had too much to shout about sport-wise lately. But there was a time when the county could boast the most famous sportsman in the land.
English heavy weight boxing champion Tom Spring was the pride of Herefordshire and the country.
Born in Witchend, Fownhope, in 1795, the bare knuckle fighter was heavy weight champion of England from 1821-1824. After gaining some early notoriety with a series of impressive victories against contemporaries, the 23-year-old former butcher struck up a friendship with English champion Tom Cribb, putting on exhibition matches.
Cribb actually handed over the title to Spring on his retirement in 1821, so it wasn't until Spring successfully defeated Bill Neat in 1823, after challenging 'anyone in England' to have a pop, that he was officially recognised.
His popularity knew no bounds. In 1824, at Pitchcroft, Worcester, Spring fought Irish boxer Jack Langan, for a purse of 300 sovereigns, or £25k in today's money, in front of 40,000 people.
The fight lasted 77 rounds..and Spring was victorious. He went on to secure a second victory against Langan and retired a champion later that same year.
In retirement Spring became a very wealthy man, and became the chairman of the Fair Play Club, an organisation dedicated to cleaning up boxing's rules.
Although as a promoter he didn't escape criticism and scrutiny, he remained a well respected sporting figure to his death.
4. Herefordshire was once home to one of the highest-paid Hollywood Stars in History.
No, not Liz Hurley....or Miss Piggy - we've done her - Madeleine Carroll. Crowned the Queen of British Cinema, she conquered Hollywood and in 1938 she grossed $250,000 – equivalent to $4,045,989.58 in today’s money – and that’s without advertising a famous brand of cosmetics. Born in humble surroundings in West Bromich, she clawed her way to the top of the acting profession in this country and married Etonian and socialite Colonel Philip Astley of Brinsop Court Herefordshire.
She was living in the county at the height of her fame in the mid-30s, though sadly, things didn't work about with the couple and they went through a 'concious uncoupling'.
Below, the couple pictured at home in their County home.
She starred in scores of movies, and is perhaps best remembered for her 1935 role in Hitchcock's The 39 Steps. Other notable credits include The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), and Safari (1940) in which she starred alongside Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
5. There is another - albeit more tenuous - Herefordshire link to a legendary actress.
Nell Gwyn(1650-1687) - mistress of Charles II, muse for Samuel Pepys and national treasure a satarist and performer in her own lifetime, is said to have been born in Hereford.
Now there is a problem - London and Oxford also claim our folk heroine. But we think there's a case for her Herefordshire roots given her surname - Gwyn, and er....we're close to Wales...
OK - that's not very impressive, but so long as London and Oxford can't prove conclusively she's theirs, we'll keep her.
6.Catherine Cookson found her writing mojo in Herefordshire. The world-renowned author spent some time in a psychiatric hospital just outside Hereford in 1950, and found the inspiration for her first novel Kate Hanagan.
Before he death in 2002, she'd written over 100 books, sold 123 million copies, which had been translated into 20 different languages.
7. Another sporting triumph for the county, with a twist of sadness.
Long before Mon Mone's fanastic National victory in 2009, county horse Sprig romped to victory in the 1927 National - though the story has more than a little poignancy, especially in this, the 100th anniversary of the First World War.
Above is Sprig, with Mrs Partridge of Bacton Green. Sprig was the beloved horse of Richard Partridge. When the keen horseman was called up during the First World War and learned he would soon be heading to the front, he implored his family to follow his dream of securing a National winner.
Captain Partridge was killed in action - and his mother vowed to realise the dream, which she did in 1927.
8. Early Television pioneer and star of What's My Line, Gilbert Harding was born in Herefordshire.
A journalist, disc jockey and broadcaster had risen from humble beginnings - his mother and father at one point were the master and mistress of the Hereford workhouse.
9. The downfall of Hitler's dreaded doodlebug weapon which struck terror in the hearts of those living in British cities during World War Two, was due in part to a device created by a Herefordshire-based scientist.
English physicist Thomas Ralph Merton(1888, 1969), of Winforton, noted for his work on spectroscopy - the study of the interaction of matter and radiated energy.
His wartime inventions included a black paint which reduced the proportion of light reflected from bombers in a searchlight to less than one per cent; the use of nitrous oxide in the fuel to accelerate fighter aircraft; and crucially, a diffraction rangefinder for fighters, which was used against doodlebugs.
10. Alright, that's enough highbrow stuff.
Did you know that Hereford United set a new record for the Football League in 1992 when they had the most players ever sent off from one team.
The Bulls had four players sent off in a Football League Division Three game against Northampton Town at the County Ground in 1992. And amazingly they actually managed to equalise with nine players, the game ended in a 1-1 draw. They finished with seven players.
Ref Brian Coddington sent off Theodosiou and Downs on 72 minutes, Titterton on 85, and Richard Jones in the 90th.
Well - you've got to end on a high note. Feel free to add your random facts/connections/weird Herefordshire tales below.
And have you read Twenty things that make you a Herefordian?
Or 10 More things that make you a Herefordian...
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