The 10 best things to have come out of Gloucester
We know Gloucester’s a great city and there are many reasons to be proud of it. But what has come out of the city and changed our everyday lives? Chief reporter BEN FALCONER investigates.
1 The Wheatstone Bridge – not a road in suburban Gloucester but a device which accurately measures electrical resistance and is still in use in all sorts of electrical gadgets today and made the electronic telegraph possible. He also invented the concertina, harmonica and the word “telephone” which he attributed to an acoustic instrument which enabled a harp to be played remotely via a piano keyboard, and showed it to a certain Alexander Graham Bell.
2 The vacuum cleaner was invented by Hubert Cecil Booth, the son of a Gloucester timber merchant and lived in St Michael’s Square. His company was later called the Goblin Cleaner Co. He made vital design and engineering changes to the Ferris wheel (Big Wheel) which enabled it to work safely.
3 Sunday School – the movement as a local, national and international force was founded by Robert Raikes junior, the newspaper editor stirred the conscience of the nation when he raised the plight of the poor. He lies buried alongside his father, also Robert, in St Mary de Crypt church. He took over the ownership of the weekly Gloucester Journal from his father Robert, who brought out the first edition on April 8, 1722. It later merged with the Citizen, making it the second oldest continually-published newspaper in the world. The oldest is the Worcester Journal (1697).
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4 The jet – Sir Frank Whittle’s engine was used in the first production jet aircraft, the Gloster Meteor. Although his engine got an aircraft in to the air for the first time officially at RAF Cranwell, in Lincolnshire, in 1941, it had already taken off less than a week before – on a few short hops during a taxi test at the factory airfield in Brockworth and Hucclecote. Sir Frank’s engine wasn’t made in Gloucester but the plane it fitted in was – and that was the tricky bit because no-one knew what would happen when an aircraft was pushed along rather than pulled by a propeller. George Carter designed the aircraft with a bit of guesswork in his house in Dog Lane, Crickley Hill, and designed the Gloster E 28/39.
5 Reforms to the prison system – Robert Raikes, Sir George Onesiphorus Paul and John Howard were so appalled at the conditions in the nation’s prisons, that Gloucester Gaol was one of the first of a new type built more than 200 years ago in 1791.
It is almost certainly was the first to be built as the result of a newspaper campaign conducted by Raikes with the help of Paul and Howard.
6 Rugby Union for all – historically it was a code famous for its upper class image, as pursuit for the sporting amateur.
But it was embraced by the city of Gloucester, where junior clubs thrive, and the Cherry and Whites are just one of four clubs to have always been in the top flight since national league rugby started in 1987.
7 The American national anthem – John Stafford-Smith, who wrote the music to the Star Spangled Banner, grew up in Gloucester and was a choirboy at the Cathedral. He was born in Pitt Street in 1750 and died on September 21, 1836, choking on a grape pip.
8 Jerusalem – signature tune of the Women’s Institute. It was written by Hubert Parry (1848–1918) who spent his childhood years at the family home of Highnam Court, a mile or two over the Severn from the city, within sight of the cathedral. Originally composed for chorus and organ, Parry wrapped his rousing tune around the words of a poem by William Blake.
9 The Ivor Novello Award – David Ivor Davies – better known by his stage name Ivor Novello, he went to school in Gloucester. At the age of nine, he was enrolled as a pupil at Bastion House Music Preparatory School in London Road, Gloucester. He later studied organ and harmony with Dr Herbert Brewer, the organist at Gloucester Cathedral.
He found fame as a songwriter with such hit tunes as “Keep the Home Fires Burning” and “We’ll Gather Lilacs”, and is probably most famous for the award in his name.
10 In 2002, housewife Sharon Price patented a washing line cover. It even appeared on BBC TV’s Tomorrow’s World but it didn’t appear to catch on.