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24 September 2014
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Flax Mill
Ditherington flax mill - the world's first skyscraper.

Shropshire is famous as the birthplace of industry, but it's given the world much more than this. Sweet peas to skyscrapers, here's our list of ten facts about the county.

Tallest column

Lord Hill's column, outside Shropshire County Council's headquarters at Shire Hall, Shrewsbury, is the tallest of its kind in the world. It stands at 133ft 6ins tall and is in the Doric style, as used by the ancient Greeks.

Geologists' paradise

Shropshire, particularly the south of the county, is something of a magnet for geologists. There are more rocks of different ages here than any area of similar size in the world(dating from 700 to 200 million years ago), and places like Ludlow and Wenlock Edge have even given their names to geological periods. The world's oldest known complete fossil was also discovered in Shropshire at Caradoc.

Home to the Brown Bomber

Boxer Joe Louis, the Brown Bomber, was stationed in north Shropshire while serving as a US Army PT instructor during World War Two. Apparently people in the local pubs used to pay money to punch him in the stomach, but he was such a hardnut that the punches had no effect. He wasn't the only famous face to visit, either. General de Gaulle and his family stayed at Gadlas Hall, a few miles away from Ellesmere, in 1940-41 and the were plans to evacuate the Royal Family to Pitchford Hall, near Shrewsbury.


Kindness to hedgehogs

If you're fond of small spiky mammals, then Shropshire is the place for you. It's the home of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, which was started in 1982 by Major Adrian Coles, now chairman of Shropshire County Council. The society is responsible for humane innovations such as hedgehog ramps in cattle grids, which stop the poor animals from getting trapped, and improving general awareness of the welfare of wildlife.

First skyscraper

Shropshire is also home to the world's first skyscraper. While it may not look much, Ditherington flax mill, on the outskirts of Shrewsbury, was the first multi-storey iron-framed building in the world - and therefore the forerunner of every skyscraper and tower block in the world. Built in 1797, it's currently awaiting redevelopment and is one of 660 listed buildings in the town.

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