32 things that Yorkshire gave the world

Yorkshire may not be huge, and may not be London, but its 12,000 km² has contributed its fair share of great stuff and ‘firsts’ to the world. Here are 32 examples of these in a list format for your enjoyment. Have a read and find out what your county has contributed to society and the world as we know it today, and what exactly puts Yorkshire on t’map.

Serving suggestion: best enjoyed with a big mug of Yorkshire Tea and a moist slice of parkin.

What Yorkshire Gave The World

  • The first ever bottle bank in the UK was launched in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, on 24 August 1977. Just 6 months later, 500 tonnes of glass had been collected nationwide. Nowadays, recycling glass is the norm, and some areas are lucky enough to have councils who collect it kerbside.
  • The ‘catseye’ reflective road stud was invented by Percy Shaw of Halifax.
  • The Parsonage in Haworth, West Yorkshire, was home to the Brontë sisters – Charlotte, Emily, and Anne – and is where they wrote their famous novels.
  • Yorkshire coastal town Whitby is known as ‘Dracula’s birthplace’, after Bram Stoker stayed there in 1890 and found plenty of inspiration for his novel within his surroundings.
  • Flamborough Lighthouse at Flamborough Head is thought to be have been the first lighthouse built in England – it was built in 1669. There is still a lighthouse on the site, however the current one was built in 1806.
  • The last witch burning in England took place in the town of Pocklington, of East Riding, in 1630.
  • The world’s very first football club was formed in Yorkshire; Sheffield FC formed on 24th October 1857, preceding all their current competitors. Now look at how many teams there are!
  • Famous plumber and sanitary ware inventor, Thomas Crapper, was born in Yorkshire in the year 1836. However, contrary to popular and misled belief, he did not invent the modern toilet.
  • The White Rabbit in popular children’s classic novel Alice in Wonderland was inspired by a stone rabbit the author, Lewis Carroll, spotted above the entrance to the sacristy inside St Mary’s Church in Beverley, Hull. Without that visit, the White Rabbit may not have featured in the book.
  • The Convent of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin at Micklegate Bar, in York, which is better known as ‘Bar Convent’, is the oldest Roman Catholic convent in England. It was established in 1686, and is still open today.
  • The National Railway Museum in York is the largest of its kind in the world. Not bad for a free attraction! It’s also home to the only Japanese bullet train outside of Japan, so if you want to see one – you know where to go.
  • The world’s first steam locomotive was made by Matthew Murray in Holbeck, Leeds, in 1790.
  • Stainless steel, which we now use every day, was discovered by Harry Brearley in Sheffield in 1913. Sheffield later became known as the city for stainless steel production.
  • Guy Fawkes of the Gunpowder Plot fame was born and raised in York. This alone is of course not a great thing, but without him we wouldn’t celebrate his downfall on Bonfire Night!
  • Yorkshire is home to many delicious cheeses, including the widely enjoyed Wensleydale cheese (Wallace & Gromit’s favourite).
  • William Wilberforce hailed from Hull. He was an MP who passionately campaigned for the abolition of the slave trade, even after he retired due to ill health. The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 was eventually passed just 3 days before Wilberforce’s death.
  • The oldest flying aeroplane in Britain – the Blackburn Type D – was built in Leeds by Cyril Foggin back in 1912.
  • Marks & Spencer started life as a penny bazaar stall on Leeds market. Look at them now!
  • Communist pioneer Karl Marx wrote articles for the Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser newspaper in the 1800s.
  • The first motion pictures were filmed in Leeds, at Oakwood Grange and on Leeds Bridge, by Louis Le Prince in 1888. So, film started life in Yorkshire! No wonder we are home to the National Media Museum, in Bradford.
  • The Children In Need mascot – Pudsey Bear – was named after his creator’s hometown.
  • Jelly Tots were accidentally invented in Horsforth by Brian Boffey, who was actually trying to create powdered jelly at the time. What a fantastic mistake!
  • York is home to many famous confectionary products, such as KitKat, the Chocolate Orange, and, naturally, the Yorkie bar.
  • The Yorkshire ‘three peaks’ – Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough – are often climbed for charity, and are generally climbed in that order.
  • Yorkshire is home to the York Maize Maze: the biggest in the UK, this award-winning maze is open throughout summer, and also features over 20 other attractions and activities.
  • Yorkshire has produced many famous and highly talented actors including Judi Dench who grew up in York, Sean Bean who grew up in Sheffield, and the late Richard Griffiths who spent his childhood in Thornaby-on-Tees.
  • Many famous musicians hail from Yorkshire – the Kaiser Chiefs, Terrorvision, and Mel B, to name just three.
  • The Yorkshire Pudding. Possibly more important than all of the above! The first recorded recipe was written in 1737, and this tasty combination of egg, flour and milk has since become a staple on Sunday dinner plates around the country.
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