Famous Prestonians who have their place in history

PUBLISHED: 23:59 04 February 2014 | UPDATED: 23:59 04 February 2014

Keef Hartley Band on the cover of his band's album, Halfbreed

Keef Hartley Band on the cover of his band's album, Halfbreed


For centuries Prestonians have left their mark across the globe – in their own unique fashion.

Longtime resident Kenny Baker featured as R2-D2 in all six Star Wars movies. His finest hour though was as Fidgit in the charming Time Bandits.

Talking of stars, Moses Holden was the Professor Brian (amaaayyyzing) Cox of his day, popularising astronomy in the early 19th century via books and lectures. He helped found The Institution for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in 1828, forerunner of today’s University of Central Lancashire.

Fellow Preston resident Joseph Livesey, temperance campaigner and vegetarian, played a major role in that project, too.

Local lad John Ainsworth Horrocks wasn’t teetotal. He planted the first vineyard in Australia’s Clare Valley, and pioneered the use of camels in the Outback. Sadly his camel, named Harry, shot him, jolting Horrocks as he loaded his gun. It fired. The explorer lost two fingers and a row of teeth, dying of infection 23 days later. He was an unforgiving sort. Before he died, he had poor Harry shot.

Who led the British charge at Woodstock? Preston’s Keef Hartley did, with his band, the first UK act to perform at the 1969 festival.

Preston-born Nick Park of Wallace and Gromit fame changed the face of British animation. And boosted Wensleydale sales.

Even more incredible is Preston’s part in the American Revolution – well, honorary Prestonian Benjamin Franklin lived briefly on Friargate during a trip to see his first grandchild.

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