Hereford is known around the world, but what exactly has put the city on the map? Here – in no particular order – are the seven things we think are most responsible for its fame (let us know if we've missed something!)

Hereford Times: The SAS raid on the Iranian Embassy in 1980The SAS raid on the Iranian Embassy in 1980

1. The Special Air Service (SAS)

The Hereford-based SAS has become one of the most famous elite fighting forces in the world.

Its hand-picked troops have to pass a legendarily tough selection process.

The SAS regiment of the British Army was formed during Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War.

It was the idea of Lieutenant David Stirling, who envisaged small teams of soldiers operating behind enemy lines to gain intelligence and disrupt operations.

The regiment moved to Hereford in 1960. Initially, it was based at Bradbury Lines (later renamed Stirling Lines), a former Royal Artillery boys' training unit, before moving in 2000 to the old RAF base at Credenhill just outside Hereford.

The SAS – whose winged Excalibur badge bears the motto Who Dares Wins – had distinguished itself on many operations since its formation, but it was the 1980 raid that ended the Iranian Embassy siege in London that lifted its fame and mystique to a new level.

Hereford takes immense pride in being the home of one of the world's most famous regiments, and its emotional ties have been strengthened as soldiers married into local families over six decades.

Hereford Times: Ronnie Radford equalizes for Hereford United v Newcastle United in 1972Ronnie Radford equalizes for Hereford United v Newcastle United in 1972

2. Ronnie Radford’s goal

Sadly, much of the magic has been lost from the FA Cup since the inception of the Premier League in 1992.

But back in the 1970s there was enormous interest in the famous old competition, and it generated iconic moments about which football fans around the world still reminisce.

Ronnie Radford’s 1972 goal against giants Newcastle at non-league Hereford United was one of them.

The match against the Magpies at a memorably muddy Edgar Street, Hereford, produced one of the biggest upsets in Cup history.

England striker Malcolm Macdonald had put Newcastle in front, but three minutes later Radford unleashed his 35-yard thunderbolt the level the score.

The TV crews – including the BBC's John Motson in his breakthrough commentary – were there to capture the now-legendary sight of Radford being engulfed by a swarm of ecstatic young fans in bobble hats and parkas.

Although it was Hereford's Ricky George who scored Hereford's winner in extra time, Radford's was the goal that was remembered and made the match famous around the world.

Hereford Times: Hereford cattle grazing wildflower meadows by Ian BoydHereford cattle grazing wildflower meadows by Ian Boyd

3. Hereford Cattle

The rich red coat and distinctive white face of the Hereford has set the breed apart and made it globally recognised.

It is believed the breed is descended from an ox that was itself descended from the small red cattle of Roman Britain, and from a large Welsh breed that once roamed along the border of England and Wales.

Hereford Beef is renowned for its succulence and tenderness, and today there are almost 10 million cattle in 120 countries of the world.

The Hereford Cattle Society in Offa Street, Hereford, was set up almost 200 years ago to ensure the registration and promotion of pedigree of the breed.

It says: "Hereford Beef is recognised around the world for being a cut above the rest.

"Hereford cattle are responsible for this superb beef and are one of the oldest and greatest beef breeds in Britain. They love grazing green pastures in the great British countryside."

Hereford Times: Nos 4 and 5 Harley Court. The house on the right was the home of Alfred Watkins, who conceived the idea of ley linesNos 4 and 5 Harley Court. The house on the right was the home of Alfred Watkins, who conceived the idea of ley lines

4. Ley lines

Photographer and amateur archaeologist Alfred Watkins was driving in Blackwardine, near Leominster, in 1921 when he stopped to compare the landscape with his map and saw a series of straight alignments of various ancient features, such as standing stones, wayside crosses, hill forts and ancient churches.

It was said to be the moment when he hit upon his theory that tracks, which he called ley lines, criss-crossed the country from key point to key point, rather than avoiding natural obstacles such as mountains.

His theory – outlined in his book The Old Straight Track – has since its publication been seized upon by proponents of extra-terrestrialism and those who link ley lines to mystical beliefs about natural electrical forces present in the Earth.

Ley lines now attract a cultish following that stretches far beyond the boundaries of Herefordshire. Some people simply enjoy walking the routes picked out by Watkins, while others share ever-more outlandish theories about the lines' 'true purpose'.

Watkins' home at Harley Court, Hereford, a quiet backwater near Hereford Cathedral, is something of a place of pilgrimage for his admirers.

Hereford Times: The Mappa Mundi at Hereford Cathedral is one of the great treasures of the medieval worldThe Mappa Mundi at Hereford Cathedral is one of the great treasures of the medieval world

5. Mappa Mundi

The Mappa Mundi, which is on display at Hereford Cathedral, is one of the most important medieval treasures in the world.

It is believed to have been drawn in the 13th century and depicts the world as round and flat.

It is on a sheet of calf skin called vellum that is 52in wide. It shows cities and rivers, and has drawings of monsters, strange creatures and mountains, with short descriptions such as: 'Here are strong and fierce camels'.

The map shows the inhabited part of the world as it was known then – Europe, Asia and North Africa – and has Jerusalem is in the centre.

East, where the sun rises, is at the top and was where medieval Christians looked for the second coming of Christ. Britain is at the bottom on the left.

The Mappa Mundi is kept in an exhibition centre purpose-built at Hereford Cathedral and opened by the Queen in 1996. It also contains the unique chained library and the cathedral’s earliest and most important book, the eighth-century Hereford Gospels.

You can find out more about the Mappa Mundi, and how to see it here.

Hereford Times: A Bulmers cider advertisment from 1932 that appeared in the Hereford TimesA Bulmers cider advertisment from 1932 that appeared in the Hereford Times

6. Cider

At the Hereford Times we think Herefordshire cider is the best in the world. It is far superior to Somerset (England's other big cider-producing county), Normandy and other lesser pretenders to the cider-making crown.

About half the cider drunk in England is produced in Herefordshire, which has the soil and weather to grow the finest apples in the world.


One of the most exciting areas of the industry today are the many craft cider-makers operating in the county, and there are routes that take you on a tour of some of them here.

But the biggest brand remains Bulmers (now part of the mighty Heineken corporation), which was started by Fred and Percy Bulmer at their family orchard at Credenhill, near Hereford, in 1887.

They moved production to Ryelands Street in Hereford (the original buildings survives today as the Hereford Cider Museum), before the firm moved to its current Plough Lane site in the late 1970s.

For people of a certain age the advertising jingle Woodpecker Cider, Hereford Lightning remains the catchiest ever written.

Hereford Times: Ellie Goulding performing at the Global Awards in 2020. Picture: Isabel Infantes/PAEllie Goulding performing at the Global Awards in 2020. Picture: Isabel Infantes/PA

Hereford Times: Hereford band Mott the Hoople pictured in their heydayHereford band Mott the Hoople pictured in their heyday

7. Music

Although less famous for its musical links than cities such as Liverpool, Hereford has, nonetheless, an impressive heritage.

Mott the Hoople found fame in the glam rock era of the early to mid-1970s and are best known for the song All the Young Dudes, which was written for them by the late David Bowie.

The band evolved from the Doc Thomas Group with Mick Ralphs, Stan Tippins, and Pete Overend Watts.

Ralphs and Tippins had been in a Hereford band called the Buddies while Watts had been part of Ross-on-Wye band the Soulents with Dale Griffin.

Ian Hunter later joined as lead singer, while Tippins became the group's road manager.

In 1969 they renamed themselves Mott the Hoople, and took their first steps to stardom.

James Honeyman-Scott was one of the founding members of The Pretenders, along with Pete Fardon and Martin Chambers, also like him were from Hereford.

The band's lead singer Chrissie Hynde wrote their classic hit 2000 miles for Honeyman-Scott a year after his death in 1982.

Singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding was educated at Lady Hawkins' School, Kington, and Hereford Sixth Form College.

She topped the UK album chart for the third time with Brightest Blue, her fourth studio album, and previously went to number one with her 2010 debut Lights and her 2014 release Halcyon.

Although composer Edward Elgar was born just outside Worcester in 1857, he had close links with Hereford.

For the first three decades of the 20th century he bestrode the Three Choirs Festival, and from 1904 till 1911 lived in Hereford at Plas Gwyn.

It was here, in the city's suburbs, that he composed Wand of Youth.

A statue of Elgar stands in Cathedral Close and is one of the most photographed sights in the city.

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