Famous people from Portsmouth A-B

Welcome to the Portsmouth Hall of Fame, a captivating showcase of remarkable individuals associated with Portsmouth, a city steeped in rich history and diverse talent. Our collection highlights prominent figures who either hailed from Portsmouth or left an indelible mark while residing and working in this vibrant city.

Portsmouth boasts a remarkable array of celebrated personalities spanning various fields, from influential writers and dedicated politicians to accomplished sports stars and gifted musicians. Our pages pay homage to these legends, both from the past and the present, and offers a comprehensive look into their life stories and contributions.

We're always on the lookout for hidden gems who deserve a place in our Hall of Fame. If you know of someone that should grace our pages but isn't featured yet, please don't hesitate to reach out. Share their details with us by sending an email to info@welcometoportsmouth.co.uk, and together, let's celebrate Portsmouth's outstanding citizens.

Admiral George Anson RN

Famous people from Portsmouth

Admiral of the Fleet George Anson, 1st Baron Anson, PC, FRS (1697 - 1762). 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 in 1741 expanding the British knowledge of the Pacific Ocean. He was promoted to rear-admiral, in 1744, the same year he was elected as MP for Hedon in Yorkshire. 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 RN

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

Famous people born in Portsmouth

Sir Henry Ayers (1821 - 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. He was born on 1 May 1821 at Portsea, Hampshire, England, son of William Ayers, employed at Portsmouth Dockyard, and his wife Elizabeth, nee Breakes. He attended the Beneficial Society's School in Portsea, and in 1832 entered the legal office of S. W. Blyth in Portsea.

Ayers and his wife arrived in Adelaide in 1840 on free passage. he worked as a law clerk, in 1845 he became secretary of the South Australian Mining Association. In 1857 Ayers was elected to Australia's first Legislative Council, he held various other high ranking government posts before becoming the 8th Premier of South Australia, a post he held five times between 1863 and 1873. Ayers was appointed C.M.G. in 1870, K.C.M.G. in 1872 after completion of the transcontinental telegraph line, and G.C.M.G. in 1894.

Hertha Ayrton

Portsmouth people

Phoebe Sarah Hertha Ayrton (1854 - 1923)was an engineer, inventor, mathematician and suffragette. She was one of the first female students to be accepted to Cambridge University at Girton College. Hertha was 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."

Mike Barnard

Born in Portsmouth on the 18th July 1933, Mike Barnard was a talented sportsman who played inside right for Portsmouth Football Club (1953 to 1959) and as a batsman and medium pace bowler for Hampshire Cricket Club (1952 to 1966). Barnard attended Portsmouth Grammar School where his sporting ability was first recognised and amazingly he also represented Hampshire schools at rugby.

Sir Walter Besant

Portsmouth famous people

Walter Besant (1836 -1901) was born in Portsmouth, English novelist and humanitarian he graduated from Christ's College, Cambridge in 1859.

Many of Besant's novels dealt with social problems in the East End of London, 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.

Henry Bird

Henry Bird a prolific chess player and accountant was born in Portsea July 14th 1829. Bird wrote Chess History and Reminiscences and An Analysis of Railways in the United Kingdom. Bird played at the first international chess tournament held in London in 1851 and also played at tournaments in Vienna and New York. Bird popularised the Bird's Opening, also known as the Dutch Attack, which involves white controlling the e5-square. In 1876 he received the first brilliancy prize at a tournament in New York.

Denise Black

Portsmouth celebrities

Actress Denise Black, real name Denise Nixon, was born in 1959 in Emsworth, to mother Stella, a bank clerk and Lieutenant Don Nixon, an engineering officer in the Royal Navy. Denise attended Portsmouth High School for Girls. 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.

Roger Black MBE

Famous people from Portsmouth

Born March 31st 1966, in Gosport, Roger Black is a former Olympic athlete and can now be regularly seen on TV as a sports presenter. He attended Alverstoke Church of England Primary School and 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

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Famous people born in Portsmouth

Isambard Kingdom Brunel 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.

Derek Boshier

Derek Boshier, Pop Artist, born in Portsmouth

Derek Boshier was born in Portsmouth in 1937 and was an artist known to be one of the first artists involved in the British Pop Art scene. He studied at the Yeovil School of art in Somerset and then the Royal College of Art alongside an illustrious group of artists including David Hockney, Pauline Boty, Allen Jones and Peter Phillips.

Boshier moved to the USA taking a position at the University of Houston 1981-1992, he also joined the California Institute of Arts in Los Angeles in 1997.

Boshier had works commissioned by musicians David Bowie, The Clash and The Pretty Things and his works can be seen at the Tate Gallery, the Museum of Fine Art, Houston, the Museum of Modern Art, New York and The National Gallery of Art, Canberra, Australia.

Read more about famous people with a Portsmouth connection here, from James Callaghan to Helen Duncan.