English Counties


In the current, summer issue of This England, we have included an article about Angel Radio (www.angelradio.co.uk), a wonderful station based at Havant in Hampshire which is run by volunteers from the older generation playing music that will appeal to listeners of a similar age group (none of the records on the programmes dates from after 1969!). Just over a week ago, I was delighted to be invited to appear on a show hosted by Angel’s founder, the young-at-heart Tony Smith, and spent an enjoyable half-hour talking about the magazine and swapping anecdotes. He also held a competition on air (with prizes of annual subscriptions to This England - and what could be better than that?!) in which he played a piece of music and then asked a question linked to each song.

First up was “I’m going back to Stockport” by Frankie Vaughan (No, I hadn’t heard it before either) and a question that asked: What wearable product was the town once famous for, exporting more than six million items a year until the closure of the final factory in 1997? The second piece of music was “Sussex by the Sea” performed by The Band of H. M. Royal Air Force and the question: What can be found in Bognor Regis (Sussex), Minehead (Somerset) and Skegness (Lincolnshire)? Finally, he played Peter Dawson singing “Old Father Thames” and asked: What is the River Thames called as it flows through Oxford? A number of listeners phoned in with the correct answers - Hats, Butlin’s, Isis - and we were able to take their details and arrange their prizes. I hope they enjoy their four quarterly issues!

We have just published our 100-page guide to the traditional, real counties of England, which is packed with similar nuggets of information to those that came up in Tony’s quiz. I thought I might pose a few of my own questions based on the contents of the new publication. Good luck!

From where does the phrase “A cock and bull story” originate?
In which English county have Morgan sports cars been manufactured since 1918?
Which village in Devon is named after a novel by Charles Kingsley?
Where, in Surrey, was the world’s first motor racing circuit?
Which English county has the longest (350 miles) coastline?
Until 1549, this structure was the tallest building in the world. Can you name it?
Who was the only Englishman (born in Hertfordshire) ever to be elected Pope?
Starting out as a shop selling herbal remedies, in which city did the first branch of Boots open in 1849?
Recalling the town’s important shoe trade, which football team is nicknamed “The Cobblers”?
What is the name of the hill in Somerset with the steepest gradient for motorists in the UK?
The residents of which county are known as “Moonrakers”?
Which Yorkshire town was the location for the popular television series “Last of the Summer Wine”?

You can order a copy of “A celebration of the Traditional Counties of England” by clicking here.

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