HEREFORDSHIRE might not be the most exciting places to live in the UK, but there are a few interesting facts about the county that you may not know.

From the Muppets to footballing records, here are 10 facts you might not have already known.

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.

Hereford Times: 10 random Herefordshire facts you may not know

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.

Hereford Times: Andrew Lloyd Webber: He penned Jesus Christ Superstar in Herefordshire with Tim Rice.

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. Bulmers' cider factory in Hereford is actually the largest in the world

We all know that Herefordshire is renowned for its cider, whether that be from big-name brands such as Bulmers, or independent producers like Tom Oliver at Ocle Pychard, near Bromyard.

Hereford Times:

But Bulmers' cider factory, now owned by Heineken, is the largest in the world.

The fact was highlighted recently when it featured in BBC documentary Inside The Factory, presented by Master Chef star Greg Wallace and Cherry Healey.

Hereford Times:

Wallace toured the factory in Plough Lane, Hereford, as well as visiting other sites in the supply chain.

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.

Hereford Times: 10 random Herefordshire facts you may not know

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.

Hereford Times: 10 random Herefordshire facts you may not know

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. Actor and musician Olly Alexander was educated in Herefordshire

This isn't a particularly strong connection to Hereford, but it's not tenuous enough to miss off this list.

Hereford Times: (L-R) Omari Douglas as Roscoe Babatunde, Nathaniel Curtis as Ash Mukherjee, Olly Alexander as Ritchie Tozer, Callum Scott Howells as Colin Morris-Jones, Lydia West as Jill Baxter

Picture: PA Photo/Channel 4

Olly Alexander, who rose to fame frontingband Years & Years, actually went to college in Hereford.

While arguarbly not as big a name as Ellie Goulding (who by this point, everyone from Herefordshire knows is from Lyonshall, Kington), Alexander recently became an even more popular name as he featured in Channel 4 show It's A Sin.

The series, created by Queer As Folk writer Russell T Davies, has had 6.5 million views on All 4 since its release last month.

The drama, which tells the story of a group of young friends living in London through the HIV/Aids crisis in the 1980s and its impact on the LGBT community, helped drive All 4 to its best ever month in January.

Hereford Times: Olly Alexander in the Channel 4 TV show It's a Sin.

Olly, who went to St John's Primary School in Coleford, Monmouth Comprehensive School, Hereford Sixth Form College and Hereford College of Arts, said the experience of portraying Ritchie Tozier in the show had alerted him to the "privilege" of the better testing and healthcare now available.

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.

Hereford Times: 10 random Herefordshire facts you may not know

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.

Hereford Times: 10 random Herefordshire facts you may not know

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

Hereford Times: 10 random Herefordshire facts you may not know

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

Hereford Times: 10 random Herefordshire facts you may not know

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. 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.

Hereford Times: 10 random Herefordshire facts you may not know

Well - you've got to end on a high note. Feel free to add your random facts/connections/weird Herefordshire tales below.