History of Corby
Not a great deal is known about the early part of Corby's history or Corbei as it was known in ancient times. There is, however, evidence of a settlement as early as the Bronze Age from
the discovery of a skeleton together with a knife or dagger found in the parish.The name Corbei dates back to the 8th century when a group of Danish invaders, with their leader, Kori, settled there. It thus became known as 'Kori's by' - Kori's settlement. Most of East Anglia in the 6th – 7th centuries was part of Denmark and Corby was named in the Doomsday Book in 1086AD as Corbei, which also means “raven”.
The Viking settlers also established a unique tradition, which would survive the years as part of a later custom, the 'Pole Fair', during which the punishment of 'riding the stang' would take
place. This involved men who had committed minor offences being carried astride an ash pole or stang through the village and having insults or missiles thrown at them.
The Corby 'Pole Fair' is an ancient custom held every 20 years with the fifth Pole Fair attracting crowds of 30,000 in the summer of 2002 with the transformation of the original
village area into a colourful spectacle, with a carnival, fair, barbecue, shows, games and many more attractions. Central to the occasion is the reading of the Royal Charter at the three entrances to the village.
Corby's Royal Charter was granted in 1568 by Elizabeth 1 and was ratified by Charles the Second on his restoration to the Throne. The Royal Charter contained six rights and is
believed to have been granted by Elizabeth I in return for personal services to Sir Christopher Hatton, her favourite courtier.
Another tradition gives the reason as a token of gratitude by the Queen after her rescue by Corby men after she had fallen from her horse in Rockingham Forest. She is said to have
commanded all local authorities in the country to exempt 'the men and tenants of the manor of Corbei' from tolls and dues. Prior to the charter, Corby had been granted permission to hold
two fairs a year by Henry III in 1226, but these had long disappeared, though customs were retained in the Pole Fair.
Corby has always been known as an iron-working region, even before the arrival of the Romans and their ironworks and the Doomsday Book names the 'Manor of Corbei' as an iron-producing centre.
With the arrival of rail in the 19th century iron working really took off. It was in the 1930's that construction of what was to become one of the largest steelworks in Britain commenced.
Corby had its own ironstone works in 1910, the plant being taken over by Stewarts and Lloyds in 1920. It was not, however, until 1933 that construction began to tap the vast reserves
under the surface of the surrounding countryside to produce steel, and to manufacture tubes for the world's markets.
Corby became a centre of frantic activity and people flooded from all over Britain to the town for employment. The first of the Scots arriving around 1934 to form a large proportion of the
new population and who still have a considerable influence on the culture of the Borough today.
During World War II, the skills of Corby workers made a significant contribution to the invasion of Europe, by developing the pipeline under the ocean (PLUTO), a cross-channel link, carrying essential fuel to the Allied forces to support the Allied forces after the D Day invasion.
In 1980, British Steel decided to close the steel works and the effect was devastating on Corby with 6,000 people being made redundant. Massive lobbying of Westminster and Europe
by Councillors and residents ensured that Corby did not die. The decision was made to pull the old works down as quickly as possible to show the commitment to redevelopment. Within
15 months of the closure, 15,000 new jobs were created by 1,500 new businesses occupying 1.5 million square feet of new business units.
New Towns Commission
Corby was designated a New Town in 1950 and most of the housing stock was built after this date. The first of the new streets to be completed was Bessemer Grove, and about the same
time the rebuilt blast furnace was officially lit by Miss Elspeth MacDiarmid, youngest daughter of the company's chairman. Neville chamberlain, the Prime Minister, was taken on a tour of
the plant in October of the same year, when it was nearly completed, and in October 1935, the first steel was tapped from the Bessemer converters. Eventually, the social life of the
town began to settle down with new housing and sufficient facilities being provided for the growing population.
In 1939, Corby was given the status of an Urban District, and in 1974 became a District Council. In 1993, Corby was granted Borough status and elected its first Mayor – Cllr Margaret Mawdsley
Last updated: Tuesday 29th April 2014 12:25:54 PM
Review date: Friday 24th April 2015 12:25:42 PM