Nottingham element: Bendigo
William Abednego Thompson, the youngest of 21 children and the third of triplets, was born in 1811 in the slums of Nottingham. There is a plaque marking his birthplace in Trinity Walk.
After a short stint in the Workhouse when his father died, William sold oysters on the streets before gaining work as an iron turner. However, he had an ability to box and by the time that he was 18 he was fighting for prize money, defeating his first eight opponents.
William earned the name of 'Bendigo' due to his fighting method which involved much bobbing and weaving thus "Bendy' Abednego became 'Bendigo', a name by which he was known for the remainder of his life.
In 1835 he first fought Ben Caunt, a boxer born in Hucknall, who was three stones heavier and six inches taller than him. The fight lasted 22 rounds until Caunt hit Bendigo whilst the latter was kneeling on the ground and so was disqualified. The bell in London's Big Ben is said to be named after Caunt who went on to become a heavyweight boxing champion.
Bendigo's last fight was in 1850 when he was 39 years old when he defeated a much younger man, Tom Paddock from Redditch. Paddock lost on a foul when, by all accounts, he was winning the fight. So ended an illustrious career in which Bendigo lost only the one fight.
Scientific element: Beryllium
It is a hard metal, but is brittle at room temperature.
Beryllium salts have a sweet taste, and the element was once called glucine with a symbol of Gl due to its flavor.
Beryllium has a long history, having been known to the ancient Egyptians in beryl and in emeralds.
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