David Yates - Richard Seddon - Lilian Parr - Alex J. Murphy - Thomas Beecham - Geoff Duke - Johnny Vegas

Notable People from St.Helens - Liverpool City Region


St Helens Director David Yates on the Harry potter set with Daniel Radcliffe 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), St Helens Rugby League Legend Paul Wellens '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 returns to St Helens for a legal match before the ban 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!


Renowned St.Helens scientist John William Draper from the Liverpool City Region

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.

Chronology Year
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


Hollywood film director David Yates from St Helens

David Yates

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.

Chronology Year
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 Richard Seddon Harold Wilson from St Helens

Richard Seddon

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.

Chronology Year
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


Women's professional St Helens football legend Lily Parr

Lily Parr

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.

Chronology Year
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


St Helens RLFC World Cup Winner Alex Murphy

Alex Murphy

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.

Chronology Year
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 from St Helens

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.

Chronology Year
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


Multiple World Champion Motorcycle Grand Prix road racer Geoff Duke from St Helens

Geoffrey Duke

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'.

Chronology Year
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


St Helens television comedian Johnny Vegas

Johnny Vegas

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.

Chronology Year
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