There is a crater on Mars near the Viking 2 landing site which was named Corby. NASA claim they don’t know how the name came about but a letter in the Corby Evening Telegraph claimed it was inspired by the World Porridge Eating Championships at the Corby Highland Gathering in 1970.
The astronauts did discuss the championships on the Apollo 11 space mission - a transcript from the Apollo 11 moon mission reads as follows:
HOUSTON: And in Corby, England, an Irishman, John Coyle, has won the world's porridge eating championship by consuming twenty-three bowls of instant oatmeal in a ten-minute time limit from a field of thirty-five other competitors. Over.
APOLLO 11: I'd like to enter Aldrin in an oatmeal eating contest next time. He's on his nineteenth bowl. Roger.
Perhaps Corby developed a cult following amongst US astronauts. Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin was one of the driving forces behind NASA's Mars missions. In any event, according to Corby council leader Willie Smith: 'it is interesting news and good for Corby that someone has named a place on Mars after us'.
All small craters on Mars are named after towns around the world with populations below 100,000. Some of the more familiar beginning with ‘C’ include: Cadiz, Cairns, Canberra, Charleston and Crewe.
Corby was founded in the 8th century by a party of Danish raiders lead by a man called Kori. The name means 'Kori's -by' (settlement).
The Vikings introduced a popular entertainment-cum-punishment called 'riding the stang' in which minor felons were carried astride a pole through the streets and pelted with rotten fruit. The tradition survives today in Corby's Pole Fair which takes place every 20 years.
The opening of the expanded Stewarts and Lloyds steelworks in 1935 led to a period of uncontrolled expansion in Corby. Known as 'little Glasgow' its population grew from under a thousand to 50,000 in four decades. Scottish labourers flocked there and lived in a shanty town, using local streams to bathe and do their washing in. Gradually permanent housing was built and Corby was granted the dreaded 'New Town' status in 1950. Most of what you see of Corby was built after that date.
During the war Corby made PLUTO, the steel 'pipeline under the ocean' which took fuel to Allied Forces under the Channel after D Day. The steel works closed in 1980, with 11,000 redundancies (about 75% of the adult male population). In a little over a year, 15,000 new jobs were created by 1,500 new businesses. Big employers now include Golden Wonder, Avon Cosmetics and Solway Foods (one of the UK's biggest sandwich makers).
Corby really is quite Scottish. The Corby branch of the Ranger supporters’ club is the largest outside Glasgow in the UK. The Corby Highland Gathering has taken place since the 1940s. Shops in Corby stock oatcakes, potato scones and Scotch pancakes all year round, and its residents talk with a noticeably Scottish tinge, quite unlike the rural burr of the surrounding Northamptonshire villages.
Corby had a claim to fame as the largest town in Europe not to have a railway station until one opened in 2009.
Corby is one of the few places outside
Scotland that has an annual Highland
By a strange QI coincidence, the chief computer graphics illustrator for the NASA Mars exploration programme goes by the improbable name of Corby Waste. He is delighted there’s a crater called Corby on Mars, but modestly takes no credit, being happy to give it all to Corby, Northants.
Corby Waste is from the town of Ross in Marin County, California and is a graduate of The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Since 1998 he’s worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California visualising what future Mars missions will look like.
It’s likely you've seen his Mars mission artwork for years without knowing who created it. It is used in over 46 different countries round the world but most of the time the image credits say only: NASA JPL.
Corby was named the 'yob' capital of England by The National Audit Office in 2006.
Ironworks existed in the Corby area before Roman times.
A young crow can be called a corby.
The 1881 census showed Corby to be a village with a population of just 785.