Notable People from St.Helens - Liverpool City Region
A great deal of prominent people throughout the ages have come from St.Helens.
It has been home to many leaders and influential people who have as a whole helped shape the town,
the borough, the country and the wider world.
Academics like fellow scientists Sir John Turton Randall, Hugh Stott Taylor,
Noble Prize winner Rodney Robert Porter and
John William Draper.
In 1840, Draper became the first person to get take a detailed photograph of the Moon and
the first person to take a clear photograph of the human face, his sister, another St.Helens first.
He was also the first president of the 'American Chemical Society' and a founding member of
the 'New York University School of Medicine'.
During World War Two, renowned scientist Hugh Taylor also pioneered the use of stable isotopes in studying chemical reactions.
When it comes to music there are plenty of acts from the borough to get your feet moving.
Jacqui Abbott female lead singer from the band 'The Beautiful South', Nick McCabe from 'The Verve', 'The Slits' drummer Peter 'Budgie' Clarke, indie rock band 'The Loungs' and the pop phenomenon Rick Astley, who has sold over 40 million records worldwide.
Television celebrities include comedian Johnny Vegas, American fantasy-drama 'Once Upon a Time in Wonderland' star Emma Catherine Rigby, Soapstar Ross Barton and the multi-talented Robert Dorning. The multi award-winning screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce is from St.Helens, as well as being the writer for the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, he has also wrote many critically acclaimed televion shows and films over the years. In fact, on the silver screen, St Helens has contributed quite a lot to say the least. With double 'Academy Award' winner George Groves. He played a significant role in developing the technology that brought sound to the silent screen. He was the 'Director of Sound' for the Hollywood giants 'Warner Bros' in a career that lasted 46 years.
Herbert Mundin was a successful Hollywood actor in over 50 films for 'Twentieth Century Fox' in the thirties especially. He appeared in many of the biggest hits of the day, classics like 'Sherlock Holmes' (1932), 'David Copperfield' (1935), 'The Imperfect Lady' (1935), 'Mutiny on the Bounty' (1935), 'Tarzan Escapes' (1936) and 'The Adventures of Robin Hood' (1938). Since we're on the subject of Hollywood, what about world famous acclaimed film director David Yates. He received the 'Britannia Award for Excellence in Directing' for the last four Harry Potter films.
From masters of the arts to masters of the oval ball. St Helens has more than proved itself over the years. It's very name is synonymous with great international rugby league legends of the past like Dave Chisnall, Tommy Cunningham and World Cup winner Eric Ashton. Let's not forget 'St Helens Hall of Fame' inductees Billy Benyon, Tommy Bishop, Eric Chisnall, Ray French, Les Jones, Barry Ledger, Paul Loughlin, Alex Murphy and Abe Terry.
But it's not just rugby league legends that rise from this part of the world. Motorcycle Grand Prix Road Racing Multiple World Champion Geoffrey Ernest Duke was born in St Helens too.
And what about the incredible footballer Lily Parr, who netted more than 900 goals in her 32 year career. She was the first woman to be inducted into the 'English Football Hall of Fame' at the National Football Museum. She had started life playing football with her brothers in St Helens, before playing for the 'St.Helen's Ladies'. In her first professional season she scored 43 goals for 'St Helen's Ladies FC', amazingly she was still only 14 years old. She was quickly signed by one of the earliest women's professional football teams in England, 'Dick Kerr's Ladies FC' from Preston. She was tall with amazing strengh and a shot that was said to be more powerful than any player having played against both male and female teams. Following the cruel banishment of female football in England, which was believed to have came about as a jealous reaction by the male dominent FA in response to the popularity that Lily Parr's team were establishing. Lily Parr and the rest of women's football were left touring both Canada and the United States. Forced to leave their own country to play the game they loved. Her tally of over 900 goals is testament to the tenacity she shown in her later years while fighting for equal rights for worthy causes. Like equal rights for both genders in sports and society as a whole.
Other top division footballers from the borough include Gary Owen, William Murphy, David Mercer, Harry Anders, John Connelly, Alexander Finney, Tommy Lucas, Leon Osman, John "Jack" Bamber who won 2 leagues with Liverpool and Eric Moore who played 177 matches for Everton during the forties and fifties. One top class international Cricketer from St.Helens was Reggie Spooner, making ten test matches for England and 237 first-class matches.
Other people of importance from the borough include Henry Berry. Berry was Liverpool's second dock engineer at the turn of the 18th century. He has a street in the 'China Town' district of Liverpool named after him, 'Berry Street'.
VC War hero John Molyneux more than deserves a mention and Eccleston born Richard John Seddon, who was without a doubt a worldy figure. He is still New Zealand's longest serving Prime Minister and is still regarded by some as the greatest leader of the country.
Leaders are a plenty in this borough, with many trade unionist leaders like Joseph Jones, 'Labour Party' founder member James Sexton and Sam Woods. Who was a British trade unionist and Member of Parliament towards the end of the 18th century. Woods began working in a coal mine in St Helens at the tender age of just 7 years old.
Last but not least, conductor Sir Thomas Beecham was born in St Helens and was a major influence on the musical life of Britain during the 1900's.
St Helens has certainly impressed its rich heritage beyond its boundaries indeed!
John William Draper
Multidisciplinary Scientist - Rumford Medal Awardee
John William Draper was born in St.Helens in 1811 and was an exceptionally intelligent intellectual. He was a Chemist, Historian, Philosopher, Physician, Photographer and Scientist. His acheivements are honoured by many world renowned institutions, including the New York University, who founded the John W Draper Interdisciplinary Master's Program in Humanities and Social Thought in 2001, in honor of his lifelong work.
|Born the son of a clergyman in St.Helens||1811|
|Emigrates to Christiansville in the United States with his mother||1831|
|Elected a Professor of Chemistry and Botany at New York University||1837|
|Moves to New York City and takes up the post at the university||1839|
|Produces the 'First clear Photograph of a Human Face' his sister Dorothy||1839|
|Produces the 'First detailed Photograph of the Moon'||1840|
|Helps to found the 'New York University Medical School'||1841|
|Develops a proposition that leads to the new 'Grotthuss-Draper' law||1842|
|Publishes the 'Elements of Chemistry, Applications of the Science'||1842|
|Makes daguerreotypes showing new lunar features in the visible spectrum||1843|
|Publishes the 'Treatise on the Forces Which Produce the Organization of Plants'||1844|
|Writes a 'Text-Book on Natural Philosoph: for the Use of Schools and Colleges'||1847|
|Writes a 'Text-Book on Chemistry: for the Use of Schools and Colleges'||1851|
|Writes 'Human Physiology, Statistical and Dynamical; Course of the Life of Man'||1856|
|Publishes the 'History of the Intellectual Development of Europe'||1863|
|Publishes the 'History of the American Civil War'||1867|
|Publishes the 'Thoughts on the Future Civil Policy of America'||1870|
|Publishes the 'History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science'||1874|
|Awarded the highly distinguished 'Rumford Medal'||1875|
|Becomes the founder and first president of the American Chemical Society||1876|
|Publishes the book 'Science in America'||1876|
|He is elected to the National Academy of Sciences in the United States||1877|
|Writes 'Scientific Memoirs; Contributions to a Knowledge of Radiant Energy'||1878|
|Dies at his home in Hastings-on-Hudson in New York and is buried in Brooklyn||1882|
|His New York home is designated a National Historic Landmark||1975|
|New York University founds the 'Draper Program' in honor of his lifelong work||1976|
|His book 'Life of Franklin' is published in the United States a century later||1977|
|Draper and the ACS were designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark||2001|
Film Director - Producer - Harry Potter Films
David Yates was born in St Helens in 1963 and brought up in Rainhill. He aspired to direct films ever since watching Steven Spielberg's 'Jaws' as a child. His first film 'When I Was a Girl' was named Best Short Film at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Since then he has rose to be one the the hottest names in Hollywood having directed four of the hugely successful and critically acclaimed Harry Potter films.
|Yates makes his first serious film 'When I Was a Girl'||1988|
|Accepted into the 'National Film and Television School'||1989|
|First feature film 'The Tichborne Claimant' shot in the Liverpool City Region||1998|
|Hired by the BBC to direct 'Oranges and Lemons'||1991|
|Creates the acclaimed six-part political thriller 'State of Play'||2003|
|Won the 'TV Spielfilm Award' at the Cologne Conference in Germany||2003|
|Won the 'Directors Guild of Great Britain Award' for Outstanding Directing||2003|
|Creates the 8 BAFTA Award-winning two-part drama 'Sex Traffic'||2004|
|Creates triple Emmy Award-winning production 'The Girl in the Café'||2005|
|Confirmed by Warner Bros to direct the 5th 'Harry Potter' film||2006|
|Creates the 5th Harry Potter film 'The Order of the Phoenix'||2007|
|Yates wins the title of 'Best Director' at the Empire Awards||2007|
|Wins the 'Best European Film Award' from the European Film Academy||2007|
|Directs the 6th film 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince'||2009|
|Directs the 7th film 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1'||2010|
|Directs the 8th film 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2'||2011|
|Wins the 'Best Director' at the Empire Awards||2012|
|Works on the new 'Tarzan' film for Warner Bros which is due out in 2016||2012|
|In talks to direct the new 'Scarface' film for Universal Studios||2014|
New Zealand Prime Minister - Great Political Leader
Richard John Seddon is New Zealand's longest serving ruler. He is still regarded by some as the greatest New Zealand Prime Minister of all time. Born in Eccleston in 1845, he was an apprentice at the Daglish's Foundry in St Helens and a foundry in Liverpool. He emigrated to Australia when he was just 18 years old. A keen liberal, by the time of his 30th birthday he was already elected the first Mayor of Kumara.
|Emigrates to Australia just 18 years old||1863|
|Goes in search of gold in the Australian gold rush||1863|
|Emigrates to New Zealand to work in the goldfields||1866|
|His fortunate riches enable him to briefly return to Melbourne and marry||1866|
|Becomes a known advocate for miners interests and rights||1870|
|He is elected as the first 'Mayor of Kumara' in New Zealand||1877|
|Elected a Minister in the New Zealand Parliament||1879|
|Unfortunately his first speech lacked empathy towards the native Moari||1879|
|Becomes acting leader of the House||1892|
|Becomes 'Prime Minister' of New Zealand after the death of John Ballance||1893|
|Attended Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and given her 'Jubilee Medal'||1897|
|Attended King Edward VII's coronation and given his 'Coronation Medal'||1902|
|Dies at sea after a record 13 years in power||1906|
Footballer - Trailblazer - Activist
Lily Parr was born in Union Street, Gerrard's Bridge, St Helens in 1905. She is one of the greatest footballers of the early era. She mastered both football and rugby at an early age. Completing her first professional league season at just 14 years old and scoring 43 goals. She was tall and said to be more powerful than most male players having contested many matches against both male and female teams.
|Scores 43 goals for St Helen's Ladies in her first season at just 14 years old||1919|
|Signs for Dick Kerr's Ladies FC for 10 shillings a game||1920|
|Lily Parr plays in front of 53,000 spectators at Everton's Goodison Park||1920|
|Lily Parr plays in the first ever women's international football tournament||1920|
|The FA ban Women's football on their grounds||1921|
|The 'Dick Kerr Ladies FC' tour North America following the English ban||1922|
|Retires from football with over 900 goals to her name||1951|
|First and previously the only woman in the 'English Football Hall of Fame'||2002|
|The Cambden LGBT help to found the 'Lily Parr Exhibition Trophy'||2007|
Rugby League Player - Hall of Fame Legend
St Helens has without doubt produced some of the best rugby league international stars and Alex Murphy is as good as they come. He was born in St Helens and signed for his local team for just £80 on his 16th birthday in 1955. He proved a complete success. He is recognized in both the 'St Helens Hall of Fame' and 'Warrington Wolves Hall of Fame'. He played 320 games for the Saints and 27 for Great Britain.
|Made his debut for St Helens RLFC against Whitehaven at Knowsley Road||1956|
|Selected by Great Britain and becomes the youngest touring player||1958|
|Rugby Football League Champions with St Helens RLFC||1959|
|World Cup Champions with Great Britain||1960|
|Won the Challenge Cup with St Helens RLFC||1961|
|Earns his testimonial match for St Helens RLFC||1965|
|Leaves St Helens to become a player coach at Leigh RLFC||1967|
|Won the Challenge Cup and the 'Lance Todd Trophy'||1971|
|Leaves Leigh to become a player coach at Warrington RLFC||1973|
|Rugby Football League Champions with Warrington RLFC||1973|
|Challenge Cup, Captain Morgan, John Player and Club Merit trophies||1974|
|At Warrington becomes the first player to earn two testimonials||1976|
|Murphy was awarded the OBE for services to rugby league||1998|
|Became Chairman of the Oxford Cavaliers RLFC||2006|
Sir Thomas Beecham
Britain's First International Conductor - Impresario
Thomas Beecham was born in St Helens and was the grandchild of the industrial
founder of the rich pharmaceutical company 'Beechams'.
After receiving his father's permission to leave Oxford University,
he studied composition privately with several teachers like Frederic Austin in Liverpool.
Throughout his life, Beecham was forever striving to keep music alive in British cities like Liverpool and London.
|First performance in public as a conductor in St Helens||1899|
|First professional performance as a conductor at the Shakespeare Theatre||1902|
|He founded the 'Beecham Symphony Orchestra'||1909|
|Staged 190 performances at Covent Garden and His Majesty's Theatre||1910|
|Conducts at the Liverpool Philharmonic for the first time||1911|
|He formed the 'Beecham Opera Company'||1915|
|He was knighted in the New Year Honours||1916|
|Beecham with Sargent establishes 'The London Philharmonic Orchestra'||1932|
|The London Philharmonic Orchestra go on a controversial tour of Germany||1936|
|Audibly remarks "The old bugger's late" to the impunctual Adolf Hitler||1936|
|After raising money for the LPO he left Britain for Australia and the US||1940|
|Became Music Director of the 'Seattle Symphony' in the US||1941|
|Senior Conductor at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York for 2 years||1942|
|He founded the 'Royal Philharmonic Orchestra'||1946|
|At Argentina's Teatro Colóne he conducts his final operatic performance||1958|
|He performs his last concert at the Portsmouth Guildhall||1960|
|Beecham dies in London aged 81 years old||1961|
Multi World Champion - Motorcycle Legend
Geoffrey Ernest Duke was born in St Helens in 1923. He was the British motorcycle Grand Prix road racing world champion on multiple occasions. He was rampant during the fifties winning six world championships and six Isle of Man TT races. He was the very first post-war motorcycling 'superstar'. The world record breaking rider was named a Grand Prix "Legend" in 2002, by the 'Federation of International Motorcycling'.
|Wins the 'Senior Clubmans TT' and the 'Senior Manx Grand Prix'||1949|
|Signs up with 'Norton' breaking both lap and race records in the Senior TT||1950|
|Wins both the 350cc and 500cc World Championships for Norton||1951|
|'The Duke' as he became known was named 'Sportsman of the Year'||1951|
|Awarded the 'RAC Segrave Trophy'||1951|
|Wins 350cc World Championships for Norton||1952|
|Awarded an OBE in recognition of his services to motorcycling||1953|
|Moves to Italian motorcycle manufacturer 'Gilera'||1953|
|Wins 500cc World Championships for Gilera||1953|
|Wins the 500cc World Championships for Gilera||1954|
|Wins his 6th and final World Championship||1955|
|Named as a Grand Prix 'Legend' by the FIM||2002|
Comedian - Actor - Director
Michael Joseph Pennington was born in Thatto Heath in 1970 and was the youngest of four children.
He attended the West Park School on Alder Hey Road in St Helens.
By the end of the nineties, Johnny Vegas was beginning to establish himself as stand-up comedian.
In 2005 he fulfilled a lifetime ambition to play for the mighty St Helens in a rugby league match,
donning the jersey at a testimonial for Keiron Cunningham.
|Made his television bow as a contestant on 'Win, Lose or Draw'||1996|
|Stars with a puppet named Monkey in multiple ITV adverts||2001|
|Makes his screen debut in the film 'The Virgin of Liverpool'||2003|
|Stars in the film 'Sex Lives of the Potato Men'||2005|
|Plays the character 'Moz' in the hit show 'Ideal' which ran for 53 episodes||2005|
|First plays Geoff "The Oracle" Maltby in the hit show 'Benidorm'||2007|
|Plays the Hamster in 'The Harry Hill Movie'||2013|
|Directs a music video for Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott||2014|
|Awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Edge Hill University||2014|