Submit your vote for the greatest Lancastrian
PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:12 07 November 2017
These are the 70 nominations for our list of the county’s most celebrated people
The names on this page are the final additions to our virtual hall of fame of the 70 greatest Lancastrians. Now we want you to decide who is the greatest of them all.
The eclectic list is part of the celebrations for Lancashire Life’s 70th anniversary and many of the people have been nominated by readers.
A look at some of the names which didn’t make it onto the list shows just how prolific Lancashire is creating talented people. Among those who missed out were: three Beatles, Geoff Hurst, the only man to score a World Cup final hat trick, composer Harrison Birtwhistle and conductor Sir Simon Rattle.
Now we’re asking you to vote for the person you think should be crowned the greatest Lancastrian.
The profiles of the 70 shortlisted for the honour of Greatest Lancastrian.
Dates: May 19, 1953 - April 20, 2106
The former Bury Grammar School pupil shot to fame on the tv talent show New Faces and went on to become one of the most-loved British entertainers of all time. The speed at which money was raised after her death to fund a statue of her in Bury is testament to the place she held in the hearts of the nation. Victoria, who died of cancer last April at the age of 62, lived in Bury for her first 18 years and in 1976 moved into a Morecambe flat with her boyfriend, and later husband, Geoffrey Durham. Up until 1991 she lived in the village of Silverdale.
Even after she moved to London she retained close links with the North West and she set two of her most successful programmes in the region, the sitcom Dinnerladies and the drama Housewife 49. She may be best remembered as Bren – her character in Dinnerladies and the subject of that statue – but there was enormous breadth to her work. She sparkled in comedy (both stand-up and sit-down-at-the-piano) and was master of the poignant drama.
Dates: , December 26, 1734 -November 15, 1802.
This artist doesn’t always get the recognition he deserves yet in his day he was the most fashionable portrait painter in the land, attracting many society figures to his studio. His muse was Nelson’s mistress, Emma Hamilton, who he painted 60 times.
He was the son of a cabinet-maker and while he performed poorly at school his ability with the paintbrush became evident. He left his wife and children in Kendal to seek his fortune in London where was a huge success - much to the irritation of Sir Joshua Reynolds who became a sworn enemy. He travelled through Europe but in later life he was dogged with debt and ill health. He bounced back thanks to commissioned from adoring members of the aristocracy.
After 40 years, he returned home to die and he is buried in Dalton. Some of his works can be seen in the Abbot Hall Gallery in Kendal. His descendents are said to include the US politician Mitt Romney.
Dates:, May 26, 1983-.
The former pupil of Westholme School near Blackburn took the fashion industry by storm in 2006 with an irreverent set of t-shirts carrying slogans such as “uhu Gareth Pugh”. He staged his first solo show during London Fashion Week in 2008 and received great critical acclaim. His House of Holland design business is now firmly established on the international fashion scene boasting a who’s who of premium international stockists including Harvey Nichols, Lane Crawford, Matches, Opening Ceremony, Emporium, Galleries Lafayette, Isetan, Net-a-Porter and Selfridges.
One of his best friends is the super-model turned actress Agyness Deyn, who he met when she worked in a local chip shop.
Dates: April 28, 1928 - November 6, 2004
Although he spent much of his working life very high up, steeplejack Fred Dibnah won the affection of the nation with his down to earth honesty and Lancastrian charm, qualities which saw him become a much loved television personality.
A statue of him in his trademark oily overalls and flat cap now stands in Bolton town centre where he began his career. After he was filmed making repairs to Bolton topwn hall, a documentary was made about his life and work and he went on to present many series about Britain’s industrial heritage. he had a life-long fascination with steam engines and toured London on one before being presented with his MBED just months before his death.He was awarded an MBE
His death came just weeks after he completed filming his final television series, Made in Britain. A steam procession carried Fred’s coffin and crowds lined the streets of Bolton to watch the cortege, which was led by the band of the Bolton Volunteers and included his pride and joy, steamroller Betsy.
And Fred, who and toured the sights of London on his steam engine before being presented with his MBE by the Queen, has not lost his place in the nation’s hearts since his death.
Dates: June 16 1890-February 23 1965
From humble beginnings in an Ulverston terrace, Stan Laurel went on to be one half of one of the most successful comedy double acts of all time and also worked as writer and film director. With his partner Oliver Hardy, Stan appeared in more than 100 films over about 30 years. Now remembered in his old home town with a statue outside the Coronation Hall and in America with a star on the Hollywood walk of fame, he started performing in music hall acts and was for a time Charlie Chaplin’s understudy.
Born: St Helens
Dates: April 26 1905-May 24 1978
Lily Parr was one of the brightest football stars of her age, at a time when the women’s game attracted huge crowds. She played most of her career as a winger for the Dick, Kerr’s Ladies team in Preston which later became Preston Ladies. She scored 43 goals in her first season, when she was just 14-years-old, and went onto find the net more than 900 times in a career which lasted from 1919 to 1951 and featured games against women’s and men’s teams in this country and abroad.
Parr was almost six feet tall and noted for her strength – on one occasion one of her shots was reputed to have broken a male goalkeeper’s arm. She was also openly gay and known for her ferocious appetite and for chain-smoking Woodbine cigarettes. After hanging up her boots she worked as a nurse at Whittingham Hospital. In 2002 she was the first woman to be inducted to the English Football Hall of Fame at the National Football Museum, which is now in Manchester.
Dates: November 20 1908-March 30 2004
The dulcet tones of Salford-born journalist Alistair Cooke brought every day US into the homes of million of BBC radio listeners.
His weekly Letter from America broadcast for the BBC covered just about every aspect of life across the Atlantic – from the Rosa Parkes bus protest to the Kennedy assassinations.
The programme last until Cooke was 95. By then he had clocked up 58 years, making Letter from America the longest running speech broadcast programme ever.
Cooke was the son of a metalsmith and he was educated at Blackpool Grammar School. After Cambridge, he worked in the media eventually becoming a foreign correspondent for the Manchester Evening News. He moved to the US and took American nationality.
After his ashes had been scattered in New York’s Central Park Cooke’s horrified family heard that some of his bones had been stolen prior to cremation by thieves operating a medical black market.
Dates: May 23, 1988
Jason Kenny is one of Lancashire’s Olympic legends. The cyclist is the joint holder – along with Sir Chris Hoy – of the highest number of gold medals for an athlete.Born in Farnworth, Bolton, Kenny specialises in the individual and team sprint events and he showed great early promise winning a host of world junior titles. His came onto the world stage in 2008 when he was selected by Great Britain for the Beijing Olympics where he won a gold and a silver. In the London Olympics he won two gold medals and in Rio he repeated his success in the team and individual sprint and then picked up another gold in the keirin. His romance and recent marriage to fellow Olympian Laura Trott plus his self-deprecating Lancashire wit won him legions of fans.
Dates: 1618-January 3 1641
The ground-breaking astronomer was the first person to show that the moon has an elliptical orbit of the earth and to witness the transit of Venus, but died aged just 22. He went to Emmanuel College Cambridge as a 14-year-old but left without graduating. He helped in the family watchmaking business and it is thought he became a tutor for the children of a wealthy merchant’s family in Bretherton. He predicted and charted the transit of Venus across the sun in 1639 and in his final months was working on a theory to explain the moon’s effect on tides.
* Nominated by writer Frank Cottrell Boyce
Dates: February 2 1931-June 10 1993
After making his television debut on talent show Opportunity Knocks in 1867, he became one the country’s best-loved comedians. Most famous for his deadpan delivery of mother in law jokes, his comically bad piano playing and his Cissie and Ada routines (performed with Roy Barraclough), he also hosted a number of popular television progammes. A bronze statue of his now stands in the memorial gardens at St Annes, near to where he lived for many years.
* Nominated by comedian Justin Moorhouse
Dates: December 19 1932-February 4 2003
Regarded as one of the finest middle/light heavyweight boxers of the 1940s, 50s and 60s, he won the British and Empire middleweight title in 1954 before crossing the Atlantic to successfully fight in the United States for many years. He started his career as a booth boxer on his father’s travelling fairground before turning professional at the age of 16 and went on to become the first British boxer to top the bill at New York’s Madison Square Garden, with 13 of his fights shown live on television in the States.
* Nominated by reader Barbara Evans
Dates: September 21 1935-
Best known now as a football commentator on Radio Five, he played more than 620 games for Blackpool and made 43 appearances for England. He spent his whole playing career at Blackpool, making his debut for Blackpool in 1954 and his final appearance in 1971, and was club captain for a decade. After hanging up his boots he had impressive spells as manager of Bolton and Leeds but when he was sacked in 1978 he stepped away from the game. He is a Freeman of Blackpool and was High Sheriff of Lancashire in 2005/6.
* Nominated by reader Barry Cartmell
Dates: May 19 1929-August 17 2000
The success of his airlines and steel business helped him became one of the richest men in the country and he used his wealth to fund his passion for football. He became the owner of Blackburn Rovers and his money helped rebuild the ground and brought in the players who won the Premiership title in 1995.
* Nominated by reader Phil Molyneux
DAME GRACIE FIELDS
Dates: January 9 1898-September 27 1979
Born over a fish and chip shop, the actor, singer, comedian and star of music hall and cinema, made her stage debut as a young child and was still performing shortly before her death at the age of 81. Her most famous song was Sally and she was popular on both sides of the Atlantic. She also did a lot of charity work in her hometown and further afield and spent much of the Second World War entertaining troops, and in 1951, she was the star turn at the opening of the Festival of Britain. She spent much of the later part of her life living in Capri.
* Nominated by reader Alan Murdoch
MAXINE PEAKE, ACTOR
Dates: July 14 1974-
Since making her name in the Victoria Wood sitcom Dinnerladies, Peake has become of the best-known, best-loved and simply best stage and screen actors on Britain. She has written radio plays, appeared in television successes from Shameless to Silks and starred in a number of theatrical roles, most notably playing the lead in Hamlet at Manchester’s Royal Exchange. She is also famous for her political views and her campaigning for socialist causes.
* Nominated by reader Hazel Eastham
Born: Moss Side, Manchester
Dates: July 15, 1858-June 14, 1928
Emmeline was born into a family with a tradition of radical politics. In 1879 she married Richard Pankurst, a lawyer 24 years her senior who supported the women’s suffrage movement. In 1889, she founded the Women’s Franchise League, which fought to allow married women to vote in local elections and in October 1903 – five years after her husband’s death – she helped found the more militant Women’s Social and Political Union.
The WSPU took direct action including window smashing, arson and hunger strikes. Like many suffragettes, Emmeline was arrested on numerous occasions and went on hunger strike, resulting in violent force-feeding. On the outbreak of war in 1914, Emmeline turned her energies to supporting the war effort. In 1918, the Representation of the People Act gave voting rights to women over 30. Emmeline’s death came shortly after women were granted equal voting rights with men, at 21.
Dates: April 5, 1922-February 14, 2014
‘Tom Finney would have been great in any team, in any match and in any age, even if he’d been wearing an overcoat.’ Bill Shankly’s comment was echoed in various ways by everyone who saw him play during his 14 year with Preston North End or in the 76 games he played for England. A supremely talented footballer who spent his whole career with one club – and later served as the club president – he also worked as a plumber in the town. He served in the Royal Armoured Corps during World War Two and in recognition of his sporting achievements and his charity work, he was awarded an OBE in 1961, a CBE in 1992 and a knighthood in 1998.
Dates: May 11, 1815-April 20, 1885
Born in Liverpool, and made president of the Liverpool Academy in 1845, the eminent Victorian artist was famed for his rugged landscapes and hunting scenes. He fell in love with the wild, untamed landscape to the west of Lytham and was a frequent visitor to the Fylde coast before he built his home there in 1861 in an area which still bears his name. He was one of the most decorated artists of the time, a three-time winner of the Heywood medal, a gift awarded to the best pictures shown at the exhibitions in Manchester; a member of the Royal Academy where he exhibited more than 150 works; and a gold medallist at the 1855 Great Exhibition in Paris.
Dates: May 22, 1959-
Few artists achieve that ultimate accolade of fame – to be known by just one name – but Steven Patrick Morrissey is in that bracket, along with Elvis and Madonna. The former lead singer of the influential band The Smiths, launched a successful solo career when the band split up in 1987. One of the finest singer-songwriters of all time, he has had top ten hits in three decades, and has a devoted following all over the world. His autobiography was controversially published as a Penguin Classic in 2013 and he has since written a novel, List of the Lost. A biopic called England is Mine was premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival in May.
* Nominated by reader Catherine Davis
Dates: November 8, 1927-
He may be in his 90th year but he’s showing few signs of slowing down, with tour dates this month alone taking him to Glasgow, Macclesfield and Carlisle (twice). As young boy he put on shows for his family in the garden of the Georgian home where he still lives in Knotty Ash and he also performed at local shows and fetes. He graduated from there to gigs in Liverpool clubs alongside his day job selling household goods door-to-door before his first professional show in 1954. He had a string of hits in the 1960s and played Malvolio in Twelfth Night at Liverpool’s Playhouse Theatre in 1971 and in 1997 made his film debut as Yorick in Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet. He was knighted in the New Year Honours list this year and a statue of him, with his trademark tickling stick, stands in Liverpool’s Lime Street station.
Dates: November 21 1932 – July 2 2010
Acknowledged as one of the best novelists of her generation, Dame Beryl Bainbridge was famed for her black humour and mystery. The award-winning author has success via 18 novels, three of which were filmed, two collections of short stories, several plays for stage and television, and many articles, essays, columns and reviews. Initially a young actor in Liverpool before moving to London to write, many of her personal dramas and incidents from her childhood ran as themes through her work. Bainbridge died of cancer aged 77, but was still working on The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress at the time of her death which was later published.
Dates: May 27 1943 – August 1 2015
Born Priscilla Maria Veronica White, Cilla Black was one of the country’s most successful and best-loved entertainers. She had 19 UK top 40 singles (including two no 1’s), released 15 studio albums, sold out concert venues around the world and presented many iconic British TV shows including Blind Date and Surprise Surprise. She was signed by Brian Epstein, a local talent scout and manager of The Beatles, and during the 1960s sustained her place at the forefront of the Brit-Pop music scene. Her popularity continued into the 2000s, thanks to her charm as a television presenter, before her death at her holiday home in Spain aged 72.
Dates: May 25 1939 –
Hollywood movie star, giant of the English stage and a bit part in Coronation Street - McKellan is the man who has just about done it all. His childhood was spent in Burnley, Wigan and Bolton which he regards as his home town. He attended Bolton School, which he still visits on a regular basis, and his acting career started at the Bolton Little Theatre. After regional rep he went to the West End and never looked back, achieving acclaim for his stage work and international stardom in the Lord of the Rings and X-Men. He has twice received Oscar nominations - third time lucky, we hope.
KATHLEEN MARY DREW-BAKER
Dates: November 6 1901 – September 14 1957
It’s a strange fact that while Drew-Baker in largely unknown in her own country, she is revered in Japan, where she is known as the Mother of the Sea. What’s even more astonishing is that a monument to her was erected in 1963 at the Sumiyoshi shrine in the town of Uto. The reason for this fame stems from her work at Manchester University which led to a major breakthrough in the cultivation of nori, an edible seaweed which is much prized in Japan.
Aa British phycologist, known for her research on the edible seaweed Porphyra laciniata (nori), which led to a breakthrough for commercial cultivation.
Dates: November 30 1868 - March 13 1947
One of the first and leading writers of modern schoolgirl stories, Brazil was born during the Victorian era and was the youngest child of mill manager Clarence Brazil and Angelica McKinnel, the daughter of the owner of a shipping line in Rio de Janeiro. Her girls fiction books, of which there were numerous, were widely read and influential upon her teenage readership. Demand for her books may have waned after the Second World War but their continued to be popular until the 1960s. Her books were considered by some to be disruptive with a negative influence on moral standards and in some cases were banned or burned by headmisteresses in British schools.
She was born in Preston, Lancashire in 1868, during the Victorian era.:166 She was the youngest child of Clarence Brazil, a mill manager, and Angelica McKinnel, the daughter of the owner of a shipping line in Rio de Janeiro, who had a Spanish mother. She was the youngest of four siblings including sister Amy, and two brothers, Clarence and Walter.:13
Dates: Circa 1704 - circa 1779
* Nominated by reader (and descendant) Stella Spann
This English machinist and engineer was the inventor of the flying shuttle, an invention credited with being an integral move towards automatic weaving and a key development in the early Industrial Revolution. The son of a woolen manufacturer, Kay was placed in charge of his father’s mill as a young man. He made many improvements in dressing, batting, and carding machinery. On May 26, 1733, he received a patent for a “New Engine or Machine for Opening and Dressing Wool” that incorporated his flying shuttle. Woolen manufacturers in Yorkshire were quick to adopt the new invention, but they organized a protective club to avoid paying Kay a royalty. After he lost most of his money in litigation to protect his patent, Kay moved to France, where he is said to have died in obscurity. Kay’s invention so increased yarn consumption that it spurred the invention of spinning machines, but its true importance lay in its adaptation in power looms.
* Nominated by reader (and descendant) Stella Spann
Dates: February 17 1886-April 20 1967
When she was just nine-years-old Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth began collecting what became one of the finest collections of textiles in the country, which is now on display at her family’s ancestral home, Gawthorpe Hall. She was also the first County Commissioner for the Girl Guides in Lancashire and a contributor to the movement on a national level, drawing designs for banners, guide badges and samplers.
* Nominated by reader Mary Davis
Dates: November 9 1937-
The award-winning poet, playwright and children’s author taught in Liverpool and was a member of the pop music/poetry group The Scaffold before making his name as one of the ‘Liverpool Poets’ with Adrian Henri and Brian Patten. A Fellow of John Moores University in Liverpool, he has produced several anthologies of his poems. He presents Poetry Please on Radio Four and has given his voice to talking books and advertising campaigns.
Dates: November 15 1890-January 11 1969
Although she wrote many nvels for adultys, Richmal Crompton is better known by far for her series of stories about the anarchic schoolboy William Brown. Richmal Crompton Lamburn, known as Ray, was the daughter of Clara and Edward Lamburn, the latter a cleric and schoolteacher who taught at Bury Grammar School. She won a scholarship to Royal Holloway College and became a classics teacher. The William stories were originally intended as ‘potboilers’ that first appeared in a 1919 short story but his adventures caught the imagination of readers and prompted the book ‘Just William’ which has been re-invented many times for stage and screen.
WALLACE HENRY HARTLEY
June 2, 1878 – April 15, 1912
The Lancastrian bandleader became the legendary figure of the sinking of RMS Titanic. Survivors said they saw Hartley and his band playing until the moment the ship went down after hitting an iceberg. His name became synonymous with a particularly English type of bravery.
When his body was found two weeks later, Hartley was still fully clothed with his music case strapped to his body. His father, the local choirmaster, was at the quayside in Liverpool when his son’s body was brought home and up to 40,000 people lined the streets when he was buried in Colne. There is a bust of Hartley in Colne and his headstone has a carved violin at its base.
SIR WILLIAM LYONS
September 4, 1901 – February 8, 1985
Lyons and Stockport-born William Walmsley, a fellow motorcycle enthusiast, co-founded the Swallow Sidecar Company, which became Jaguar Cars after World War Two. The son of an Irish immigrant and a mill owner’s daughter, he showed early business acumen. The sidecar business eventually developed into a manufacturer of low cost cars, including the Austin Seven Swallow, produced in Blackpool at the rate of 12 a week.
Sadly for us, he moved the business to Coventry and it eventually took on the iconic name Jaguar. Lyons was knighted in 1956 in recognition of Jaguar’s booming exports but eventually he was forced to merge with other car makers in the Midlands. Had he kept the business in Blackpool, the local economy could have been very different.
* Nominated by reader Richard Jardine, Hest Bank.
LADY ALICE MARY O’ HAGAN
Dates: ?????, 1846 -November 20, 1921
The last resident of Towneley Hall, Burnley, was the donor of some of the Egyptology collections now in the museum’s collection and was interested in social and educational work. She sold the hall and 62 acres of parkland to Burnley Corporation in 1901. She served on the Local Education Committee, was a county magistrate and was involved with the Ladies’ Committee of the Victoria Hospital. She was also influential in the League of Social Services, opening a school which mothers could attend, thereby hopefully reducing the child mortality rate which was massive at the time in Burnley.
Dates: September 25 1938
Ron was the first British winner of the Boston Marathon 1970, a gold medalist in the marathon at the European Athletics championships in Athens 1969, and in the commonwealth games marathon in Edinburgh 1970. He won a bronze medal in the marathon at the European athletics championships in Helsinki 1971 and ran in two Olympics; Tokyo 1964 and Munich 1972. He competed in 115 marathons – winning 21 of them – and set four world records in four different distances and is still a current member of Clayton-le-Moors Harriers running club. He launched the athletics clothing company Ron Hill Sports and now owns Hilly sports and was awarded the freedom of the Accrington in 2012.
* Nominated by reader Harry Manning
FRANK COTTRELL BOYCE
Dates: September 23 1959-
The author of ten children’s books started his career as a writer for Brookside and has also collaborated with Michael Winterbottom on films such as Welcome to Sarajevo, 24 Hour Party People and A Cock and Bull Story. He has also adapted some of his own novels for the screen; was commissioned to write sequels to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and worked with Oscar winner Danny Boyle on the Olympic opening ceremony.
Dates: January 2, 1878-July 21, 1952
A physician and the first female graduate of Manchester University, she was instrumental in founding the Maternity Hospital in Manchester and is considered to be one of the founders of modern neonatal practice.
Her father was a GP and he encouraged her interest in medicine by taking her with him on his rounds. Following her graduation, she worked in London and Yorkshire and returned to Manchester in 1906 as GP and was also a consultant at Hope Hospital and the Babies Hospital. She was medical officer for Manchester Girls High School and often spoke and wrote of the need for a greater understanding of women’s health issues. She was awarded a CBE in 1935 and became the first female Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1949.
Dates: December 26 1990-
Captain of the England women’s cricket team, Heather Knight, turned down an opportunity to study natural sciences at Cambridge University to pursue her love of the sport. Thanks goodness she did. The 27-year-old is a prolific batsman who has been instrumental in the success of the national team, leading them to victory at the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup with a nine run lead over India. She has also been involved in the creation of a UK cricket range designed for women
THE RIGHT HON JOHN BRIGHT
Dates: November 16 1811 - March 27 1889
John Bright was a Quaker, British Radical and Liberal statesman. He sat in the House of Commons from 1843 to 1889, promoting free trade, electoral reform and religious freedom. In partnership with Richard Cobden, he founded the Anti-Corn Law League, aimed at abolishing the Corn Laws, which raised food prices and protected landowners’ interests by levying taxes on imported wheat. The Corn Laws were repealed in 1846.
* Nominated by reader Colin Bowes,
Dates: May 1834 - April 4 1915
An English chemist and an inventor, Hargreaves was employed by various soap manufacturers, including Gossage where he discovered a method of bleaching the brown soap in common use, invented blue mottled soap and devised a method of recovering chromates from the fats and oils used in soap manufacture. In addition to his chemical investigations, Hargreaves invented an engine which ran on gas-tar and was called the Hargreaves Thermo motor - the forerunner of the Diesel engine.
Dates: January 19, 1961-
The son of Canadian Mohawk chief and former wrestler Billy Two Rivers, Wayne spent much of his childhood in Morecambe dressed up and paraded down Morecambe pier by his mum and grandmother. Elvis, a Beatle or Tarzan, he had worn it all.
Fast forward a few decades and this renowned fashion designer, also cofounder of label Red or Dead, is on the Design Council, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and the Design Council CABE Committee. After selling Red or Dead, which he ran with wife Gerardine, the couple set up HemingwayDesign, which specialises in affordable and social design. The company has worked on many housing projects, including in Lancashire. They also organise Vintage Festival, which takes place in Morecambe.
Dates: March 9, 1952-
William ‘Bill’ Beaumont is one of the giant of rugby union - in just about every sense of the word. He was born in Chorley into a family steeped in the textile industry and he is still involved in the family firm.
He became a member of Fylde Rugby Club and that was a springboard for a career involving 34 England caps. As captain, he steered his country to an unlikely Grand Slam in 1980 and he was a regular British Lion. He became a popular figure among a wider audience as one of the captains on BBC’s A Question of Sport and he was awarded a CBE in 2008. He is still very active in the sport – he is currently a member of the International Rugby Board and chairman of the Rugby Football Union and is chairman of World Rugby.
SIR WILLIAM WALTON
Dates: March 29, 1902-March 8, 1983
Walton was born into a musical family in Rochdale and showed early promise as a musician and singer. At 16, he became one of the youngester ever undergraduates at Oxford where he was introduced to modern forms of classical music, such as Stravinsky and Debussy. On leaving he became a protege of the Sitwell family, swiftly developing a reputation as a modernist composer. His best-known works include Façade, the cantata Belshazzar’s Feast, the Viola Concerto and his First Symphony. Ironically, by the 1950s he was criticised for being old fashioned. He went to live on the Italian island of Ischia, where he is buried but there is a memorial to him in Westminster Abbey close to Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Britten.
Dates: July 2 1973-
Before he found fame, the comedian, who left school with just one GCSE, in art, worked in a toilet roll factory, supermarket and bingo hall, where apparently he gained inspiration for some of his characters. Starting his comedy in the late 1990s, he won the North West Comedian of the Year contest and Channel Four’s So You Think You’re Funny? and had some success with That Peter Kay Thing but was catapulted to fame by his stand-up show in Blackpool, Peter Kay Live at the Top of the Tower. Since then, Phoenix Nights, a succession of sell-out tours and charity singles have cemented his place as the nation’s favourite. His latest show, the second series of Car Share is currently being screened on the BBC.
Dates: March 3, 1958-
Having made her debut in amateur theatre at the Southport Dramatic Club, she studied at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School alongside Daniel Day-Lewis and Jenny Seagrove. She had a successful career in the theatre, initially at Manchester Library Theatre, before making the break into television and films. Well-known for her role as Queen Elizabeth I in Blackadder, she has also appeared in dramas such as A dance to the Music of Time and An Inspector Calls, and film roles including The Crying Game and Made in Dagenham. She has been won scores of awards and will play Clementine Churchill in a film due to be released next month.
BETTY JACKSON, FASHION DESIGNER
Dates: June24, 1949-
Betty Jackson was the daughter of a shoe factory owner and a fashion-conscious mother who shopped ‘for the season’ at Kendals in Manchester. She suffered tragedy aged six when her leg had to be amputated from complications at birth. It never held her back. After attending Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School, she studied fashion at the Birmingham College of Art under Zandra Rhodes and worked as a designer for Ossie Clark.
Betty launched her own design business, creating many of the outlandish outfits for Edina and Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous and launching the Autograph brand for M&S. She was awarded the MBE and later the CBE for services to fashion.
LS LOWRY, ARTIST
Dates: November 1, 1887 – February 23,1976
Lurence Steven Lowry had a classic unhappy childhood with a distant father and a mother who made no secret of the fact she had wanted a girl instead of this ‘clumsy boy.’ Lowry repaid his widowed mother’s regular criticism by caring for her during a long illness.
He worked as a rent collector but his great escape was painting. Many of his works depict Pendlebury, where he lived for more than 40 years, and nearby Salford.
Most are bleak scenes of industrial life in in the mid-20th century. His distinctive urban landscapes and his matchstick figures were loved by many but other critics dismissed him as a ‘Sunday painter.’ He had the last laugh by becoming one of the Britain’s most notable artists with a worldwide reputation. You can see many of his work at The Lowry in Salford.
BRIAN COX, SCIENTIST
Dates: March3, 1968-
Brian Cox is the man who turned science into rock ‘n’ roll – apt as he started off as the keyboard player with D:Dream, responsible for Things Can Only Get Better. They did for Cox thanks mainly to Hulme Grammar and University of Manchester where he gained a PhD in high-energy particle physics.
He put his love of physics down to Carl Sagan and he followed in his footsteps onto TV thanks to his boyish good looks and his infectious enthusiasm. His work with the BBC on programmes such as Wonders of Life and Radio 4’s The Inifitnite Monkey Cage have made bus a household name.
PETER MAXWELL-DAVIES, COMPOSER
Dates: September 8, 1934 –March 14, 2016
Almost certainly the only Lancastrian to have been appointed Master of the Queen’s Music. Peter Maxwell-Davies was dedicated to contemporary music and set up a group, which included Harrison Birtwistle and John Ogdon, to promote the genre while they were at the University of Manchester and the Royal Manchester College of Music.
He wrote ten symphonies and several works for the stage including a drama called Eight Songs for a Mad King, which shocked audiences. From 1992 to 2002 he was associate conductor/composer with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he also held with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.
Dates: August 5 1928 – May 31 2016
A comedy writer known for television hits including Butterflies and Bread, Carla Lane was praised for her use of strong female characters. Born Roma Barrack, she started her career in the 1960s writing short stories and radio scripts, before gaining her big break with The Liver Birds. Her most well known work is Bread, which ran for seven series and discussed social issues such as divorce and alcoholism. Lane was also dedicated to the care and welfare of animals. She established the Animal Line Trust in 1990 with friends, Rita Tushingham and Linda McCartney and later converted the grounds of her Sussex mansion into a 25-acre animal sanctuary, operating for 15 years. Following her death the Carla Lane Animals In Need centre was opened in her memory.
Born: Higher Walton
Dates: April 22 1912 - October 8 1953
She is remembered as one of the world’s great singers, but Kathleen Ferrier didn’t start her career that way. She worked for the General Post Office in Blackburn, first in the telegrams department and then as a switchboard operator. It was only aged 18 that she took part in her first concert as a pianist, but after a dare from her husband she entered the Carlisle Festival in 1937 as a singer, walking away with first prize for best singer. Her career then took off, making records and becoming well known on the concert platform in the UK. She then sang in New York in 1948, before touring America, Canada, Holland and Scandinavia. She passed away from cancer aged 41.
Dates: December 3 1753 - June 26 1827
Inventor of the spinning mule, a machine which helped to revolutionise the cotton industry worldwide, Crompton was never credited for it in his lifetime. Born into a family that had been smallholders and weavers in the area for several generations, Crompton was aware of the limitations working on a jenny had. He set about creating a machine that would solve the problem, resulting in a prototype in 1779. Unable to afford a patent to keep his ideas from being stolen or secure funding from manufacturers, he resorted to working from home. However he couldn’t keep up with the new factories, and his fortunes continued to slide until he died in debt.
Dates: March 23 1968-
Since he hung up his pads, the former Lancashire and England captain and opening batsman has made a new career for himself as an accomplished broadcaster and journalist. His father Alan was a goalkeeper on the books of Manchester United but Michael excelled from an early age on the cricket field – he captained Manchester Grammar School, represented Lancashire Schools and Cambridge University before making his county debut as a 19-year-old. His rise was meteoric and he was named England Captain at 25 and led the team in 54 Tests. A resilient batsman at a tough time for English cricket, his career was plagued by back problems which eventually led to his retirement
Dates: August 27 1959-
Adopted as a baby, she was brought up in a highly religious household in Accrington. Her first novel, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, touched on many of her childhood experiences and was adapted as a popular television drama. Since then she has produced a shelf-full of novels and has amassed a collection of literary awards. Awarded the OBE in 2006, she is professor of creative writing at the University of Manchester and was last year included in the BBC’s 100 Women.
SIR HENRY TATE
Born: White Coppice
Dates: March 11 1819-December 5 1899
He entered the grocery trade in Liverpool and after a seven year apprenticeship he bought a business in the city. By 1855 he had five more stores and later moved into the sugar trade with refineries in Liverpool and London, where he made sugar cubes. He was given the Freedom of the City of Liverpool in 1891 and was knighted in 1898, a year before his death. His company amalgamated with the Abram Lyle company in 1921 to form Tate and Lyle.
Tate made donations to several institutions, including Liverpool University and gave £500 towards books for a new library in Chorley in 1899. He is arguably best remembered now for founding the National Gallery of British Art (now Tate Britain), which now has sister galleries around the country, including Tate Liverpool.
Dates: July 8 1936-March 1 2016
Born Anthony McVay Simpson, but better known by his stage name, he was an actor, screenwriter and novelist whose career defining moment came on a train on the way to Manchester. Coronation Street was initially commissioned as a 13 part ITV series, but is still going strong almost 60 years later. He received a host of industry awards and was given an MBE in 2008.
Dates: October 9 1940-December 8 1980
One of the most successful singer-songwriters of all time, he formed his first band, the Quarrymen, when he was 15. Paul McCartney was invited to join the group after a performance at a church garden fete and the pair went on to form a legendary partnership. The Beatles’ influence on pop music extended long beyond the band’s 10-year existence. Lennon had a successful solo career and after time away from the industry with his young son, had released a new album just weeks before he was murdered in New York. He courted controversy throughout his career through comments in interviews and political statements such as his opposition to the Vietnam War.
Dates: February 5 1788- July 2 1850
The son of a Lancashire textile manufacturer and politician, this former Bury Grammar School pupil is best remembered as the founder of the modern police force. He served two terms as Prime Minister – he also doubled up as Chancellor of the Exchequer for six months –
Among his other notable Factories Act which restricted the hours children could work.
* Nominated by reader Rob Waterhouse, via email.
Dates: January 17 1907-January 20 1991
Although countless more have been produced in its wake, his seven volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells – which took him 13 painstaking years to complete – remains the authoritative series on walks in the area. In 1941 he moved to Kendal for a job in the Borough Treasurer’s office and spent his spare time exploring the hills and fells. He wrote more than 40 books, including a guide to the Coast to Coast walk which he devised.
Dates: November 20 1900-July 19 1979
After taking up painting when she was in her 60s Helen Bradley was supported by LS Lowry who encouraged her to base her oil paintings on her childhood memories. Initially, she created her paintings of outings, incidents and occasions in Edwardian Lancashire to show her grandchildren how the world had changed. They now sell for tens of thousands of pounds at auction in this country and abroad.
* Nominated by reader Alex Taylor, via email.
Dates: May 28 1911-March 15 2003
In a career which spanned 75 years, she appeared in more than 100 films and scores of television comedies and dramas. Born into a theatrical family – her mother acted and her father managed theatres around Morecambe – she made her stage debut aged just two months in a play at a theatre her dad ran. For almost 20 years she appeared in Last of the Summer Wine but was also adept at straight roles, as she proved in monologues written by Alan Bennett, one of which was her final role. She was twice the subject for This is Your Life and was awarded an OBE in 1983 and later made a Dame.
Dates: December 6 1977-
One of the most powerful batsmen, the fiercest bowlers and surest-handed slip fielders in cricket history, Flintoff learned his trade on pitches around Preston and at St Annes. His talent was obvious and he progressed through the Lancashire youth teams and onto the national and international stage. He broke records throughout his career (which included stints in the Indian Premier League and the Australian Big Bash League) and since his retirement he has hosted television and radio shows, tried his hand at boxing, completed a nationwide comedy tour and won the Australian version of I’m a Celebrity. Get Me Out of Here.
Dates: December 23 1732-August 3 1792
Known as the Father of the Industrial Revolution, Arkwight was an inventor, entrepreneur and mill owner who helped the change the face of Britain. Although many of his patents were later revoked after they were ruled to be copies of earlier inventions, he improved the carding machine and was among the first to mass-produce yarn. He made his fortune with a series of mills across Lancashire and the midlands and his work also paved the way for the development of the power loom.
* Nominated by reader Roz Yellow, via email.
Dates: February 27, 1930-
The multi-millionaire owner of the company which produces Fisherman’s Friend lozenges in Fleetwood is also a major benefactor to the town. She has given millions of pounds to a number of projects and donated to the town a replica of London’s Eros statue which stands on a roundabout on one of the main routes into town. The lozenges, which are now sold in 120 countries, were concocted by a Fleetood chemist, James Lofthouse, in 1865 the original menthol and eucalyptus recipe was seen as an aid to local fisherman who braved freezing conditions.
Dates: January 18, 1964-
Horrocks, who has become a star of television, film and stage, trained at Oldham College and then at RADA where she studied alongside Imogen Stubbs and Ralph Fiennes. Her career began at the Royal Shakespeare Company but her big break came with the Mike Leigh film Life is Sweet and she subsequently appeared in the sitcom Absolutely Fabulous and was nominated for the 1993 Olivier Award for Best Actress for the title role in the stage production of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. She reprised that role in the film and received more award nominations. The former Balladen County Primary School pupils has since appeared in – or as a voice artist for – scores of films, including Sunshine on Leith, Chicken Run and Tinker Bell.
Dates: May 14, 1926-May 28, 1984
He brought sunshine to the lives of millions with the most celebrated comedy double act of all time – a partnership with Ernie Wise which lasted more than 40 years. Born John Eric Bartholemew, he worked as a Bevin Boy in a coal mine near Accrington during World War Two before establishing himself as comedy favourite on the radio and later the television. The Morecambe and Wise Shows, and their Christmas specials, attracted massive audiences and he was voted the funniest person of the 20th century.
* Nominated by reader Richard Jardine.
Dates: May 26 1904 – March 6, 1961
The actor, singer-songwriter and comedian rose to fame through his films of the 1930s and 1940s, loved by a worldwide audience. Formby is well remembered thanks to his musical performances, where he would sing comical songs, usually while playing the ukulele or banjolele. One of the UK’s best-paid stars, Formby turned down many lucrative offers, including one from Hollywood, so that he could entertain British and American troops during the Second World War, earning him an OBE in 1946. At the height of his career he topped the bill at several Royal Command performances at the London Palladium. A weak heart led to his official retirement in 1952, and he later died of a heart attack.
STEVEN GERRARD MBE
Dates: May 30, 1980-
Regarded as one of the greatest football players of his generation, Gerrard played for Liverpool Football Club’s first team from 1998 until 2015. During those 17 seasons, he helped the team to win two FA Cups, three League Cups, the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup, as well as many personal awards. Captain of LFC from 2003 until his departure, Gerrard also captained the England national team on numerous occasions. In 2015, he packed his bags and left to play for Major League Soccer Club, LA Galaxy, spending one-and-a-half seasons there before retiring from football on November 24, 2016. It was later announced he would return to LFC, as a full-time academy coach for the Under 18s team.
* Nominated by reader Sue Sugden.
Dates: September 1973-
Once an apprentice car mechanic, Alfie Boe is now Fleetwood’s most famous son. The internationally renowned tenor and superstar of musical theatre is best known for his critically acclaimed performances as Jean Valjean in the musical Les Misérables, playing the role in the Queen’s Theatre in London, the Les Misérables: 25th Anniversary Concert in October 2010, and in the Broadway revival. He has been playing the lead role in Finding Neverland on Broadway shared a Tony Award with the other members of the ensemble cast of Baz Luhrmann’s 2002 revival of La bohème in 2003. He has also performed with other world famous singers and musicians, including a tour with Michael Ball, and has sold over one million albums in the UK.
Dates: 26 April 1877 – 4 January 1958
Sir Edwin Alliott Verdon-Roe was a pioneering English pilot and aircraft manufacturer. Founder of the Avro company in 1910, he first experimented with model airplanes before doing flight trials in 1907–08 with a full-size aeroplane. After a thwarted attempt at moving to Canada, aged just 14, he moved back to the county to serve as an apprentice with the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway. He also had a career in the Merchant Navy before moving into the aviation field. He was the first Englishman to fly an all-British machine, with a triplane. He was knighted in 1929 for his achievements. He was also the grandfather of professional racing driver Bobby Verdon-Roe.
Dates: August 23, 1947 -
Willy Russell didn’t exactly take a conventional route to the stage. He left school at 15 and became a ladies’ hairdresser and quite a successful one, too, owning his own salon.
In his early 20s he decided to go to college and qualified as a teacher. Throughout these early years Russell worked as a semi-professional singer, writing and performing on the folk circuit.
He was also keen on writing drama and a seminal moment came when he took three one-act plays to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the 1970s where his talent was spotted. That began his long association with the Liverpool Everyman. From then, flowed award-winning classics such as Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine, Blood Brothers and Our Day Out.
Dates: April 6,1917 – May 25, 2011
A remarkable woman and the subject of another recent biography which followed an exhibition at Tate Liverpool. Leonora was a surrealist artist who was a household name in her adopted home of Mexico, where she was a founding member of the Women’s Liberation Movement, but remained largely undiscovered in her native Lancashire.
Rebellion was the hallmark of her early years, growing up as the daughter of a wealthy textile manufacturer. Leonora, who developed an childhood passion for surrealism, was twice expelled from school.
She met the German giant of surrealism, Max Ernst, in London and they ran away together to Paris. Leonora was dogged by mental health problems not helped by treatments involving strong drugs subsequently banned.
After working as an artist in New York, she settled in Mexico where she married for a second time and became an established figure, noted for her pictures and writing. Happily, her talent is now widely recognised.