FAMOUS PEOPLE FROM PORTSMOUTH

Famous people from Portsmouth

The Portsmouth Hall of Fame displays the details of some of Portsmouth's famous residents, some of who were born in Portsmouth and others who lived and worked in the City.

Portsmouth has a wealth of famous people both present and in the past, these include writers, politicians, sports personalties and muscians.

If you know of someone who you feel should be included on these pages, but is missing, then please send us an email to info@welcometoportsmouth.co.uk and let us know the details.

  • Admiral George Anson.

    ADMIRAL GEORGE ANSON

    One of the most decorated men of the Royal Navy, joined the Navy at 15, became an officer at 21 and by 27 was a Captain and commanded his own ship. Anson made a round the world journey that lasted nearly 4 years, he was promoted to rear-admiral, in 1744. In 1747 he led the fleet that defeated the French at Cape Finisterre and was made promoted to vice-admiral. In 1748 he became a full admiral, first lord of the admiralty.

  • Sir Francis Austen.

    SIR FRANCIS AUSTEN

    Sir Francis Austen (1774 - 1865) a British officer who spent most of his long life on active duty in the Royal Navy, rising to the position of Admiral of the Fleet. In October 1805, as commander of the HMS Canopus, a captured French ship of the line, Austen was temporarily detached from Admiral Nelson's fleet for duties in the Mediterranean and missed fighting in the Battle of Trafalgar. Austen was brother to novelist Jane Austen, and likely the model for the character William Price in the novel Mansfield Park. Austen's rapid early promotions were largely due to the patronage of the powerful Warren Hastings, who was a friend of the Austen family and was alleged to be the actual father of Frank's cousin (and later sister-in-law), Eliza de Feuillide. Francis Austen is buried at St Peter and St Paul church, Wymering.

  • Sir Henry Ayers born in Portsmouth

    SIR HENRY AYERS

    Sir Henry Ayers (1 May 1821 - 11 June 1897) was a Premier of South Australia and is best remembered for having Ayers Rock (now Uluru) named for him, by the explorer WC Gosse. Henry Ayers was born in the the Portsea area of Portsmouth, England, on 1 May 1821, youngest child of shipwright and docker William Ayers and his wife, Elizabeth. On leaving school he entered a law office, he emigrated to South Australia in 1840, with his wife Anne, on a free passage.

  • Hertha Ayrton scientist from Portsmouth

    HERTHA AYRTON

    One of the first female students to be accepted to Cambridge University at Girton College. Born in 1854 as Sarah Marks, at 6 Queen Street, Portsea, the third child of a Polish Jewish watchmaker. She married Professor William Ayrton in 1885, he was her lecturer at Finsbury Technical College where she was studying at the time. Her scientific work led to great improvements to the arc lamp, widely used for street lighting. Hertha was proposed but turned down as a Fellow of the Royal Society, the institute stating that "married women are not eligible as Fellows of the Royal Society."

  • Sir Walter Besant of Portsmouth

    SIR WALTER BESANT

    Walter Besant 1836 -1901, born in Portsmouth, English novelist and humanitarian, graduated from Christ's College, Cambridge, 1859. Many of Besant's novels, dealt with social problems; among them were All Sorts and Conditions of Men (1882) and Children of Gibeon (1886). Besant was one of the most widely read novelists of the late 19th century. He was knighted in 1895.

  • Actress Denise Black, born in Portsmouth

    DENISE BLACK

    Actress Denise Black, real name Denise Nixon, was born in 1959 in Portsmouth, to mother Stella, a bank teller and Lieutenant Don Nixon, an engineering officer in the Royal Navy. Her first professional drama role was as a cat in Miniatures at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre. In 1992, Denise appeared in The Bill, A Touch of Frost and as a Police woman in Between The Lines before joining Coronation Street as hair dresser Denise Osbourne, a role she played until February 1996, she returned for another 6 months in Coronation Street at the end of 1992.

  • Athlete Roger Black MBE, who was born in Portsmouth

    ROGER BLACK MBE

    Born March 31st 1966, in Portsmouth, Roger Black is a former Olympic athlete and can now be regularly seen on TV as a sports presenter. He attended Portsmouth Grammar School, where he was Head Boy in 1983 - 1984. He set the national 400 metre record of 44.37 seconds on 3 July 1996 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Roger won the following Olympic medals:
    Atlanta 1996 : Silver : 400m
    Atlanta 1996 : Silver : 4 x 400m Relay
    Barcelona 1992 : 400m
    Barcelona 1992 : Bronze : 4 x 400m Relay

  • Picture of Isambard Kingdom Brunel who was born in Portsmouth

    ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL

    Isambard was born at 1 Briton Street, Portsea, educated at Hove, near Brighton and studied for two years at the College Henri Quatre, Paris, after which, in 1823, he rejoined his father in England. After his work on the Thames Tunnel, Isambard planned the Clifton Suspension Bridge, over the River Avon, which was completed posthumously in 1864 using chains from his own Hungerford Suspension Bridge. He was responsible for the design of several famous ships including The Great Western, launched in 1837, was the first steamship ever to engage in transatlantic service. The Great Britain, launched in 1843, was the world's first iron-hulled, screw propeller-driven, steam-powered passenger liner. The Great Eastern, launched in 1859, was designed in cooperation with John Scott Russell, and was by far the biggest ship ever built up to that time. Brunel was also responsible for the redesign and construction of many of Britain's major docks, including Bristol, Monkwearmouth, Cardiff and Milford Haven as well as numerous pioneering bridges.

  • Picture of Prime Minister James Callaghan from Portsmouth

    JAMES CALLAGHAN (PRIME MINISTER)

    Leonard James (Jim) Callaghan was born and brought up in poor circumstances in Portsmouth, the son of a naval chief petty officer of Irish descent. Leaving secondary school at 16, he became a tax clerk before serving in the Royal Navy. When Harold Wilson resigned as Labour leader and prime minister in 1976, Jim Callaghan took over, beating Michael Foot in a ballot of MPs. After losing the 1979 general election to Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives, he remained as Labour leader for another year, before handing over to Michael Foot.

  • Photo of Playboy Playmate Marilyn Cole

    MARILYN COLE

    Born May 7th 1949 Portsmouth, Marilyn was Playboy magazine's January 1972 Playmate of the Month, as well as 1973s Playmate of the Year, the only Briton to hold that title. For some time she was involved with Roxy Music singer Bryan Ferry and appears on the cover of Roxy Music's album, Stranded. In 1984, she married Victor Lownes, a Playboy executive and associate of Hugh Hefner owner of the Playboy business.

  • Houston Stewart Chamberlain

    HOUSTON STEWART CHAMBERLAIN

    Born 9th September 1855 in Southsea. His parents both died before he was a year old and he was brought up by his grandmother in France. In 1899 he published The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century describing two master races - Jews and Germans - the Jews however are described as a negative race standing between the Germans and their destiny of mastering the world. It is thought that this work was used by Adolf Hitler as the basis of the Third Reich anti-semitic philosophy. In 1908 he married Eva Wagner, the composer's daughter. Chamberlain died in 1927.

  • Photo of Archeologist Sir Barry Cunliffe.

    SIR BARRY CUNLIFFE

    Sir Barrington Windsor Cunliffe, CBE, born December 10th 1939 known as Barry Cunliffe, was Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford from 1972 to 2007. Barry attended Portsmouth Northern Grammar School and went on to read archaeology and anthropology at the University of Cambridge. He made his name in the excavations at Fishbourne Roman Palace, but became an authority on the Iron Age through work on the Danebury hillfort. Sir Barry Cunliffe has served on a variety of public bodies in the Archaeology sector, the Ancient Monuments Board, Museum of London, British Museum, Mary Rose Trust and the Council for British Archaeology. He has published numerous books on archaeology and also presented the Radio 4 programme, 'Age to Age'. He was knighted in 2006.

  • Picture of Charles Dickens, born in Portsmouth

    CHARLES DICKENS

    Charles Dickens, the son of John and Elizabeth Dickens, was born in Landport, at 387, now 393 Commercial Road, on 7th February 1812. John Dickens worked as a clerk at the Navy pay office in Portsmouth. In 1833 Dickens had his first story published in the Monthly Magazine. Using the pen-name of 'Boz', Dickens also began contributing short stories to the Morning Chronicle and the Evening Chronicle. These stories were so popular that they were collected together and published as a book entitled Sketches by Boz (1836). The publisher, William Hall, now commissioned Dickens to write The Pickwick Papers in twenty monthly installments. This was followed by Oliver Twist, published in Bentley's Miscellany (1837-38) and Nicholas Nickleby (1838-39), also published monthly. Read more here about Charles Dickens and the birthplace museum in Portsmouth.

  • SARAH DOUDNEY

    Born 15th January 1841 in Portsea, Sarah was a poet and novelist and is probably best known as a childrens writer. Her works include, Psalms for Life, 1871, a collection of 60 hymns, Under Grey Walls 1871, 'Where Swallows Build', Girl's Own Paper 1898, Thy Heart's Desire 1888, Katherine's Keys 1896 and The Vanished Hand 1896. She died on the 8th December 1926 in Oxford.

  • Nicola Duffet

    NICOLA DUFFET

    Born 22nd January 1963, Portsmouth. She remains best known for two long-running soap opera roles. After appearing as Debbie Bates in EastEnders from 1993 to 1995 she went into the role of boozy floozie Cat Matthews in Family Affairs. Cat first appeared in Family Affairs in late 1998 and has been a key character in the show's storylines ever since. Prior to her success in soap opera Duffet played a key role, that of Mrs Bast, in Ismail Merchant and James Ivory's 1992 film adaption of Howards End.

  • Photo of Aurthur Conan Doyle.

    SIR AURTHUR CONAN DOYLE

    Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes was a prolific writer. His large body of work includes poetry, plays, historical fiction, commentary on social and legal reform, war and military chronicles, enthusiastic articles on various sport, and finally writings on behalf of Spiritualism. In 1882 he came to Portsmouth and set up his first practice at 1 Bush Villas, 41 Elm Grove, was a member of Portsmouth (North End) Cricket Club and Southsea Bowling Club, in 1884 he was a founder member of Portsmouth Football Club and played for the club as goalkeeper.

  • Helen Duncan

    HELEN DUNCAN

    Scottish spiritualist, Duncan held a seance in Portsmouth, 1941 and predicted the sinking of HMS Barham. On the 19th Jan 1944 during seance at a Copnor Road, Chemist Shop, she was arrested and charged with Witchcraft, tried at the Old Bailey and was jailed for 9 months. She was the last person to be tried for Witchcraft in England as the act was repealed in 1951.

  • Spike Edney of Queen

    SPIKE EDNEY

    Musician Phillip 'Spike' Edney was born 11th December 1951 in Portsmouth. He is often referred to as the 5th member of Queen because of the amount of concerts played with them. During the mid-1970s, he recorded and toured with The Tymes and Ben E. King, playing keyboards, bass, guitar and trombone. In the late 1970s, he was musical director for Edwin Starr and, during the early 1980s, worked with Duran Duran, the Boomtown Rats, Dexys Midnight Runners, Bucks Fizz, Haircut One Hundred and The Rolling Stones. Edney's collaboration with Queen included mostly keyboards (his main instrument), plus rhythm guitar and backing vocals.

  • Author Neil Gaiman born in Portsmouth

    NEIL GAIMAN

    The author Neil Gaiman was born in Portsmouth on November 10th 1960 and lived with his family at Portchester. Neil started his career as a journalist and his early books included a Duran Duran biography and the Douglas Adams biography, 'Don't Panic: The Official Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion.' He has a wide repertoire including science fiction, fantasy, childrens and adult novels. Neil wrote the cult Sandman series of graphic novels as well as the children's fantasy novels Coralline and Stardust, both of which were made into films, he has also written several episodes of the Dr Who TV series. Neil Gaiman's work has been honoured with many awards internationally, including the Newbery and Carnegie Medals.

  • Photo of composer Murray Gold of Portsmouth

    MURRAY GOLD

    Born in Portsmouth in 1969, Murray is a composer, working mainly in Film, Television and Theatre. He has written the music for The Second Coming (starring Christopher Ecclestone), Servants (BBC series), Clocking Off and Channel Four's series Shameless. Murray is best known as the core composer of the hit BBC TV series Doctor Who and the spin off series Torchwood and has been nominated for a BAFTA four times in the category Best Original Television Music.

  • Picture of Jonas Hanway

    JONAS HANWAY

    Jonas Hanway(1712-1786), traveller, prison reformer and philanthropist. Born at St Georges Square 12 Aug 1712. He founded the Marine Society to keep up the supply of British seamen, in 1758 he became a governor of the Foundling Hospital and was instrumental in establishing the Magdalen Hospital. Famous as the first man to carry an umbrella on the streets of London, to the derision and outrage of hackney carriage coachmen, who feared for their business.

  • Portsmouth born Christopher Hitchens.

    CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS

    Christopher Eric Hitchens (born April 13, 1949 in Portsmouth, England) is among the best known and most controversial figures in contemporary American media. He is a prolific author, journalist, literary critic, and public intellectual who is often described as a "contrarian". He has been a columnist at Vanity Fair, The Nation, Slate, and an occasional contributor to many other publications. Christopher died on 15th December 2011 aged 62.

  • Roger Hodgson born in Portsmouth, of the band Supertramp.

    ROGER HODGSON

    Vocalist, composer and songwriter of the band Supertramp was born in Portsmouth on 21st March 1950. He spent a large part of his childhood years at boarding school in Surrey where he first learnt to play the guitar and later piano, bass and drums. After leaving school Roger recorded his first record "Mr. Boyd" with a session band including pianist Reg Dwight (Elton John). Roger met Rick Davies and together they went on to form the band Supertramp, releasing their first album "Supertramp" in 1970. Supertramp had worldwide success with albums such as Crime of the Century, Breakfast in America and Crisis? What Crisis? Roger left Supertramp in 1983 to persue a solo career and to spend more time with his family, he is still writing and performing in concerts, performing solo.

  • Photo of Fred T Jane.

    FRED T JANE

    Born August 6th 1865, in Richmond, Surrey, Jane lived the majority of his life in Southsea, living at 17 Elphinstone Road. Jane was an illustrator and drew warships from his teenage years, his book All the World's Fighting Ships, was first published in 1898. He died in 1916 and is buried at Highland Cemetery.

  • Joe Jackson

    JOE JACKSON

    Joe Jackson, musician and singer-songwriter, was born on August 11, 1954, in Burton-on-Trent, England, but grew up in Portsmouth. An awkward, skinny, asthmatic child, he joined a violin class (aged 11) in order to escape from school sports, and soon fell in love with music. Joe has been awarded a fellowship by the Royal Academy of Music and an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Portsmouth.

  • Paul Jones born in Portsmouth

    PAUL JONES

    Paul Jones born Paul Pond, February 24th 1942, Portsmouth, attended Portsmouth Grammar School, vocalist with Manfred Mann, solo singer and radio presenter.Paul turned down an offer to join the band which became the Rolling Stones, but went on to have great success with Manfred Mann and in his own right as a solo artist. He is a Doctor of Music (University Of Portsmouth) and President of The National Harmonica League.

  • Dillie Keane

    DILLIE KEANE

    Cabaret star, member of Fascinating Aida, attended Portsmouth High School, Kent Road until she was 12 while her father was a GP practicing in Somers Town. Dillie has had a wide reaching career appearing in West End shows, TV work, writing comedy for radio and her own one woman shows.

  • Writer Rudyard Kipling, lived in Southsea, Portsmouth

    RUDYARD KIPLING

    Kipling was the first Englishman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature (1907). His most popular works include The Jungle Book (1894) and the Just So Stories (1902), both children's classics though they have attracted adult audiences also. Rudyard Kipling was born on December 30, 1865, in Bombay, India, where his father was an arts and crafts teacher at the Jeejeebhoy School of Art. His mother was a sister-in-law of the painter Edward Burne-Jones. At the age of six he was taken to England by his parents and left for five years at a foster home at Southsea, Lived in Lorne Lodge, 4 Campbell Road. Soon after Kipling had received the Nobel Prize, his output of fiction and poems began to decline. His son was killed in the World War I, and in 1923 Kipling published The Irish Guards In The Great War , a history of his son's regiment. Kipling died on January 18, 1936 in London, and was buried in Poet's Corner at Westminster Abbey. His autobiography, Something Of Myself, appeared posthumously in 1937.

  • TV presenter Amanda Lamb from Portsmouth

    AMANDA LAMB

    TV presenter Amanda Lamb was born in Portsmouth on the 19th July 1972. In 1994 she took over the role of the Scottish Widow in the long running insurance company TV advert. She has been the main presenter of Channel 4's A Place In the Sun since 2001 and also regularly appears in Market Kitchen and on the Wright Stuff.

  • John Madden, film director born in Portsmouth

    JOHN MADDEN

    TV and film director John Madden, was born in Portsmouth on April 8th 1949. Madden, who started his career as artistic director of the Oxford and Cambridge Shakespeare Company, directed TV series such as "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" and "Prime Suspect" and episodes of "Inspector Morse". He expanded his career into film, his first hit film being "Mrs Brown" which starred Judi Dench as Queen Victoria and Billy Conolly as John Brown, in 1997, other hits followed including "Shakespeare in Love" starring Gwyneth Paltrow in 1998 and more recently "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" (2011) with a stellar cast of British actors.

  • Photo of author Michelle Magorian.

    MICHELLE MAGORIAN

    Born November 6th 1947, Portsmouth, Michelles father was in the Royal Navy, therefore due to postings she spent many of her early years living in Singapore and Australia. Until the age of 18 she lived in Portsmouth, at 19 Michelle attended the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama in London, studying drama. As an author she has produced both fiction and poetry mainly for young people, these include Goodnight Mister Tom (which was made into a film for TV), Back Home, Not a Swan, and A Spoonful of Jam.

  • Novelist Olivia Manning.

    OLIVIA MANNING

    Born March 2nd 1911 in Portsmouth, Olivia was a journalist and novelist. The daughter of a naval officer, produced her first novel, The Wind Changes in 1937 but is best known for her series of novels The Balkan Trilogy and The Levant Trilogy. She is said to have constantly worried about her ability as a novelist and her literary reputation and is reported to have said that she wished she could be famous like the actor comedian Peter Sellers, also born in Portsmouth. Ironically she died on July 23rd 1980, the same day as Peter Sellers, reports of his death somewhat overshadowed her own and took up more column space in the papers.

  • Peter Orton

    PETER ORTON

    Peter grew up in the Tangier Road area and after leaving Portsmouth Technical School worked as a salesman selling shoes. In 1966 he joined Television International Enterprises, a programme sales business. Peter was responsible for the international sales of Sesame Street, becoming close friends with Jim Henson. He worked with Henson and helped set up Henson International Television. When Henson sold his TV business to Disney, Orton decided to found Hit Entertainment the best known and one of the most successful children's TV production, licensing and merchandising companies in the world, introducing characters such as Postman Pat, Alvin & the Chipmunks and Bob the Builder. Peter Orton died December 5th 2007 after battling cancer for some time.

  • Photo of Allison Owen from Portsmouth

    ALLISON OWEN

    Film producer Allison Owen was born in Portsmouth in 1961, to Peter and Mary Owen, her mother Mary worked Portsmouth Dockyard. Allison attended the Northern Grammar School for Girls. Her film credits include Moonlight and Valentino (1995), Elizabeth (1998), Sylvia (2003), Shaun of the Dead (2004), Proof (2005), The Other Boleyn Girl (2007) and Brick Lane (2007). Allison is mother to the singer Lily Allen from her previous marriage to the actor / comedian Keith Allen. She is currently married to the art director Aaron Batterham.

  • Olympic Athlete, Alan Pascoe, born in Portsmouth.

    ALAN PASCOE, MBE

    Olympic athlete Alan Pascoe, was born in Portsmouth on the 11th October 1947. He attended Southern Grammar School for Boys in Portsmouth, before studying at the University of London for an Honours Degree in Education. He won medals for hurdling at a variety of distances, at the 1972 Olympic Games (Silver 4 x 400m relay), the European Championships 1969 - 1974, and the Commonwealth Games 1974 - 1978. After athletics he forged a highly successful business career in events marketing and consulting, starting Alan Pascoe Associates Ltd and having sold that setting up Fast Track Events Ltd.

  • John Pounds

    JOHN POUNDS

    John Pounds was born in Portsmouth on 17th June 1766. Following an accident at Portsmouth Dockyard, he was crippled for life.
    Unable to work as a shipwright, John became a shoemaker, whilst working in the shop, John began teaching local children how to read and write. John Pounds is recognized as the founder of the movement known as the ragged schools.
    Read more about John Pounds here.

  • Comic actor Peter Sellers born in Portsmouth

    PETER SELLERS

    Goon, Peter Sellers was born Richard Henry Sellers on September 8, 1925 in Southsea. Sellers' parents were vaudeville entertainers, and at two days old, Sellers was carried onto the stage at King's Theatre, Southsea. After appearing in over 60 films as well as on numerous radio and television shows throughout his career, Sellers died of a heart attack on July 24, 1980. Displaying his unending sense of humor, the comic said good-bye with one last joke. At Sellers' request, the song "In The Mood" was played at his funeral, a tune that he hated.

  • Katy Sexton, MBE from Portsmouth

    KATY SEXTON MBE

    Katy Sexton was born 21 July 1982 in Portsmouth. One of her most significant achievements was becoming the first British female swimmer to win gold at the 2003 World Championships in the 200m backstroke. She also competed in the 100m and 200m backstroke at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens for Team GB, and has represented England at the Commonwealth Games in 1998, 2002 and 2006.

  • Portsmouth author Neville Shute

    NEVIL SHUTE

    British-born Australian novelist, an accomplished storyteller, whose best-known work, On the Beach (1957), was adapted for the screen in 1959. The picture became one of the most celebrated anti-Bomb films, and attracted much attention in Moscow because it was the first full-length American feature to have a premiere in the Soviet Union. Shute was educated as an aeronautical engineer and he used his expertise on technical issues and knowledge of aviation in his books. His novels Pied Piper (1942) and A Town Like Alice (1959) have also been made into major films. In 1922 Shute joined the de Havilland Aircraft Company. He worked as an aeronautical engineer, specializing in Zeppelins. He was a deputy chief on the Rigid Airship R100 project, one of the last of the British airships. He flew twice to America aboard it. The project ended after the 1930 R101 disaster. Next year Shute founded Airspeed Ltd at Portsmouth Airport

  • Composer Freda Mary Swain.

    FREDA MARY SWAIN

    Composer and Pianist, Freda was born in Portsmouth in 1902, she studied the piano with Dora Matthay and then at the Royal College of Music with Arthur Alexander, whom she married in 1921. She formed the British Music Movement in 1926 to promote the works of young composers and artists.During her career she wrote over 100 songs, a one-act opera Second Chance, a second unfinished opera The Shadowy Waters, a Suite for Six Trumpets, orchestral pieces, two string quartets and many other works. Freda died on the 29th January 1985 at the age of 82.

  • Portrait of a Naval Surgeon by Richard Ubsdell

    RICHARD HENRY CLEMENTS UBSDELL

    Richard Ubsdell (1812 - 1887) was a Portsmouth artist who specialised in painting portraits, miniatures and photography. His earliest surviving work is believed to be a watercolour of the jail on Portsmouth High Street, 1830 part of the Portsmouth Record Office Collection. Ubsdell and his brother Daniel exhibited at the Royal Academy 5 times and a number of his works are part of the National Maritime Museum collection, two of his watercolours from 1863 are in the Royal Collection. Ubsdell ran a photographic studio at 1 Green Row between 1857 and 1878. Ubsdell died on 4th June 1887 at 57 Brompton Road, Landport.

  • Percy F Westerman, author, born Portsmouth 1876

    PERCY F WESTERMAN

    Writer Percy F Westerman was born in Portsmouth in 1876, was educated at Portsmouth Grammar School and went on to a clerical job at Portsmouth Dockyard. Westerman wrote over 170 books and sold an estimated 1.6 million copies, mostly stories of high military adventure for boys. His first being A Lad Of Grit written in 1908. Many of his stories were in series and his characters included Standish of the Air Police and Cadet Alan Carr of the Merchant Navy. During the First World War Westerman was employed on coastal duties and as a navigation instructor, he died on February 22nd 1959.