5 Firsts that changed the world

England’s historic places have seen some of the world’s most important scientific advances and discoveries.

Many are still there for us to visit and imagine – what must it have been like to be the first?

These 5 places were nominated for A History of England in 100 Places in the category of Science and Discovery. They didn’t make the final list, but we couldn’t pass up the chance to share them anyway.

You can still get involved in helping us put together a list of 100 Places that tell in England’s story. Find out more here.

5 Firsts that changed the world:

1. Leeds Bridge

Leeds Bridge David Dixon

Location: 1 Dock Street, Leeds LS10 1NB

You may have heard that the first ciné films were made by the Lumiere brothers, or perhaps it was Thomas Edison? In fact, French inventor Louis Le Prince made the first ciné films in Leeds, Yorkshire in 1888. He captured the first moving pictures on paper film using a single lens camera. Whilst working in Leeds he made the very first film in his in-laws garden, and his second film was of traffic crossing Leeds Bridge.

Traffic_Crossing_Leeds_Bridge wiki
Still from an 1888 moving picture of traffic crossing Leeds Bridge by Louis Le Prince


2. Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

School of Tropical Medicine, Pembroke Place, Liverpool, Merseyside.
School of Tropical Medicine, Pembroke Place, Liverpool, Merseyside. DP039569

Location: Pembroke Place, Liverpool L3 5QA

Opened in 1899, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine was funded by Sir Alfred Lewis Jones, a shipping magnate who saw the impacts of tropical diseases on his crews. Lead researched Professor Ronald Ross (1857–1932), who identified the mosquito bite as the source of malaria, became the first Briton to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1902.

3. Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Oxford, UK
Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Oxford, UK via wiki

Location: Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PW

Reason for nomination: Dorothy Hodgkin, Britain’s first and only woman to win a Nobel prize in Science (for chemistry in 1964), had her laboratory here. She discovered the structure of penicillin, vitamin B12 and insulin.

4. Papworth Hospital

Staff carry a patient in to the newly built Princess Hospital for Women (now part of Papworth Hospital), c.1932 © Cambridgeshire Archives

Location: Papworth Everard, Cambridge CB23 3RE

Originally set up in 1918 to provide holistic treatment for tuberculosis patients, Papworth Hospital enabled its patients to work in several industries. However, Papworth Hospital is most famous for pioneering cardiothoracic surgery including the world’s first triple (heart, lung and liver) transplant in 1986. Papworth has been an NHS hospital since 1948.

Patients in a ward in Papworth Hall, Papworth Tuberculosis Colony, c.1919 © Cambridgeshire Archives

5. Alexandra Palace

Alexandra_Palace_from_air_2009 wiki
Alexandra Palace, 2009 via wiki

Location: Alexandra Palace Way, London N22 7AY

Known globally as the birthplace of television, in 1935 the BBC leased the eastern part of the building, and in November 1936 the first public television transmissions were made.

Alexandra Palace also played an important role during the Second World War. Though television broadcasts were stopped, BBC transmitters at the palace were used in a secret operation to jam radio signals used by German bomber pilots to identify their positions and targets.


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Hundreds of you have got involved with A History of England in 100 Places, and we’re thrilled to announce the top 10 in the category of Science and Discovery, chosen by Professor Robert Winston.

Join presenter Emma Barnett in our new weekly podcast. Visit the home of modern computing, the line where time began, the hut that saw the first vaccine and many more fascinating places

Listen to the podcast

Join in the conversation on twitter using #100Places

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