Ten things you need to know that Norfolk did first
PUBLISHED: 14:56 14 January 2014 | UPDATED: 14:56 14 January 2014
1 According to archaeologists, the first Britons arrived in our county 950,000 years ago. Norfolk Man entered the country via the extensive land bridge that joined the county to mainland Europe, which – if still in existence – would make minibreaks to Holland far easier than they are today.
2 Pablo Fanque – born William Darby in Norwich in 1796 – was the first black circus proprietor in Britain, and was celebrated by The Beatles in the lyrics for Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite. In true showbiz style, Fanque was partial to lying about his age – when he married his second wife in 1848, he pretended to be 30, not 52.
3 The Norwich Post, first published in 1701, is believed to be the earliest truly provincial newspaper in England. Competition soon arose, with the Norwich Postman published in 1706 and the Norwich Gazette in 1707 – the Eastern Daily Press arrived in 1870.
4 The first British-made carpets were knotted in Norwich in 1583 – most bore a coat of arms, scrolling vines and blossoms.
5 Mother Julian of Norwich was the first woman known to have written a book in the English language. Revelations of Divine Love was produced in 1395 and told of Mother Julian’s visions of Christ, or ‘shewings’, which is as Norfolk a word as you could ever hope to read.
6 In its present form as a mixture of six letters and digits, the postcode was first used in Norwich in 1959 and allowed letter sorting to be carried out by machinery. Today, there are 1,671,528 postcodes across the UK.
7 Norwich City Football Club was the first English league side to beat Bayern Munich in its home stadium. And 17 years later, it remains the only English team to do so.
8 The first recorded reference to a barber in Britain was John Belton from Norfolk in 1163. Presumably, before this time, men in the county sported flowing locks or relied on their wives being handy with a knife.
9 Norwich City Council was the first local authority to install a computer to deal with the rates system in 1958.The National Elliot 405 machine was massive and required an entire room to house it.
10 The first bowler hat was commissioned by Edward Coke of Holkham Hall in Norfolk. Coke wanted headgear that could be worn by gamekeepers when they were out riding to protect their heads from low-hanging branches. Before accepting the bowler hat, Coke stamped on the hat twice to check its robustness.