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Cheltenham is well known for the annual Cheltenham Festival horse races, but did you know….
1. Cheltenham is home to the world’s oldest cricket festival.
In 1878, Cricket Week was introduced at The College in Cheltenham. It is now known as ‘The Festival’ and is the oldest cricket festival in the world. But don’t confuse it with another of Cheltenham’s famous festivals - National Hunt Racing host a horse racing event also known as ‘The Festival’.
2. Cheltenham owes its existence as a spa town to pigeons.
Way back in 1715, someone apparently noticed a flock of particularly healthy looking pigeons hanging around an empty field on the outskirts of the settlement. When the ground was inspected, a mineral spring was discovered - the water’s salts had been attracting the birds. The Cheltenham town crest now features three birds as a result!
3. The GCHQ building has a lot of glass.
‘The Donut’, as the GCHQ building is known, has an incredible 13,000 square metres of glass on its structure, which is enough to install double glazing in 10% of houses in Cheltenham! Also, the central courtyard of the building is big enough to fit the Royal Albert Hall inside.
4. Cheltenham was one of the first English towns to have council run electricity.
The main substation was housed in a building that was modelled off of the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. The building was opened in 1894, and is now a Grade 2 listed building. You can now spend a romantic night there, as it was recently converted into the Palazzo Strozzi Hotel!
5. Croquet is rather popular in Cheltenham.
One of the country’s largest croquet clubs calls Cheltenham home, as does the headquarters of the national body of the sport - the Croquet Association.