15th Dec, 2019

History guy Dan lifts the lid on Redditch and stepping back into the past

Correspondent 5th Apr, 2019

Dan Snow, Palace Theatre, Redditch

LETit Snow… History!

Did you know Redditch once produced 90 per cent of the world’s needles? And we also invented the Flying Flea, an ingenious little motorbike that was parachuted from planes for our soldiers to use in WW2.

In fact, we are rather well known across the world for our ingenious and stylish motorcycles as Redditch was the birthplace of the Enfield Cycle Company, later to use the brand name ‘Royal Enfield.’

The first Royal Enfield motorcycle was built in 1901 and one of their most famous models, the Royal Enfield Bullet is the longest-lived motorcycle design in history. In fact, the Bullet is still being produced in India today from the same plans that were drawn up in their birth place of Redditch.

These are just a few of the local facts Dan Snow, the well-known historian and TV presenter delighted his audience with at the Palace Theatre on Wednesday night.

Dan also showed video footage of his kayaking down death defying rapids in America, opening a 250 year-old coffin in Scotland and flying a supersonic jet 80,000 feet up into space all accompanied with amusing anecdotes and historical facts.

The audience were also treated to stories from some of the interesting characters Dan’s met on his travels including 96 year-old local woman Betty Webb who used to work at Bletchley Park where codes and ciphers were broken during the Second World War. Apparently she was made to sign a secrecy act that meant she couldn’t discuss any aspect of her job for 30 years but now Dan affectionately told us: “You just can’t shut her up.”

There was also the story of a 99 year-old former British soldier who Dan and his family travelled to Dresden with to relive the anniversary of it being bombed by the allies in 1945. When Dan’s 5 year-old daughter asked the former soldier if he ever killed anybody in the war he replied: “Yes, loads. I was a right psychopath back then.”

The evening ended with Dan being challenged by a member of the audience to explain the whole of the first world war in under 2 minutes. The feat was timed by the only millennial in the audience and Snow smashed it coming in at 1.56.

Thank you to Dan Snow and the Palace Theatre for an enjoyable and informative evening.

Claire Bullivant

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