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Vote Now! Celebrate Sefton’s most famous figures in 2020

Ahead of Sefton’s Borough of Culture year, we want residents and visitors to tell us what stories they want us to celebrate throughout 2020.

The Borough of Culture (BoC) title is awarded by the Liverpool City Region’s Combined Authority to one of its six local authorities (Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral) on a rotating, annual basis.

2019 is currently Wirral’s year while 2020 will be dedicated to Sefton with a raft of new, existing and community led events planned for the year.

The focus of Sefton’s year will be on stories, looking at two key elements, local history and the environment.

Through the Sefton Stories Project, we are already planning to celebrate narrative around the Bootle Blitz, Red Rum and the Grand National, the borough’s amazing coastline, Southport’s tourism and Maghull amateur astronomer Isaac Roberts.

But as the borough is blessed with so many other different and unique stories and individuals behind them, we want the public to decide on who else to celebrate in 2020.

After much deliberation, a list of 10 stories has been chosen to vote on with at least 4 more being added to the final list. A blank box has also been added enabling people to champion stories or individuals they think we have missed and one of these will be included as well.

An online poll has now been set up on for people to cast their votes and we are encouraging groups and individuals to champion different stories telling us why they should be celebrated.

The poll will run until January 13, 2020 with the full list for the Sefton Stories Project announced shortly afterwards.

The list to vote for includes:

Spotlight On: Sefton’s Maritime History:
The Heroes of the Lusitania and Captain Edward Smith of the Titanic

Spotlight On: Frederick J Hooper:
Polar explorer, member of Scott expedition

Spotlight On: Dame Beryl Bainbridge 
Acclaimed British writer

Spotlight On: Thomas Fresh:
Pioneer in British environmental health

Spotlight On: Kenny Everett:
Comedian and radio disc jockey

Spotlight On: Sir Henry Segrave:
Made the land speed record in 1926

Spotlight On: Frank Hornby:
Meccano, Hornby Model Railways and Dinky Toys

Spotlight On: Albert Pierrepoint:
The last hangman in Britain

Spotlight On: James Dunwoody Bullock:
Confederacy’s chief foreign agent during the US Civil War

Spotlight On: Christiana Hartley:
Social and welfare rights activist, philanthropist

Spotlight On: Dame Beryl Bainbridge

Dame Beryl Bainbridge

Beryl Bainbridge was brought up in Formby and became one of the most respected and successful writers of her generation.

She led a colourful, yet turbulent life. Expelled from Merchant Taylor’s School for Girls, she carried on her education at a school in Hertfordshire which specialised in the arts. After school, she took up acting and met her future husband in the theatre.

She married the artist Austin Davies in 1954, had 2 children, but divorced in 1959. By this time, she was living full time in London. A third child, Rudi, appeared after a relationship with writer Alan Sharp.

To make ends meet she continued to act with a variety of roles including one on Coronation Street, and also took manual roles such as working in a bottle factory. In the late 1960’s she took up writing and published her first novel in 1967.

Soon the novels were flowing and she became a full-time writer. Her works were dark, mysterious and comic, characterised by strong storylines – and critically acclaimed. By the end of the 1970’s and early 1980’s she was acknowledged as one of the most important writers of her time, and soon the accolades were to flow.

In 2000, she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE). In June 2001, Bainbridge was awarded an honorary degree by the Open University as Doctor of the University. In 2003, she was awarded the David Cohen Prize for Literature together with Thom Gunn. In 2005, the British Library acquired many of Bainbridge’s private letters and diaries. In 2011, she was posthumously awarded a special honour by the Booker Prize committee.

Musician Mark Knopfler included a song titled “Beryl” dedicated to her and her posthumous award on his 2015 album Tracker.

Beryl Bainbridge died in 2010 aged 77, although she always claimed she was 2 years younger. She is buried in Highgate Cemetery.

To vote for this Sefton figure in our public poll please click here

Spotlight On: Sefton’s Maritime History

Sefton is synonymous with its maritime history with two important stories of the 20th Century not to be forgotten.

Edward Smith was the captain of the famous RMS Titanic, a British passenger liner that sank on its maiden voyage after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912.

Smith began his life at sea as a teenager, following his half-brother to Merseyside he began his apprenticeship aboard the Senator Weber, owned by A Gibson & Co. of Liverpool. Smith rose up the ranks quickly and in 1880 joined the White Star Line.

Founded in Liverpool in 1845 it had grown to become one of the most prominent shipping lines in the world.

In 1887 Edward Smith married Sarah Eleanor and they moved into a house in Waterloo where they lived for almost ten years.

Edward Smith was considered one of the world’s most experienced sea captains when the RMS Titanic left Southampton for New York on 10 April 1912.

However, days into the voyage she hit an iceberg and The Titanic was severely damaged and shortly after 2 am on April 15 the ship slipped into the cold, dark waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Smith, along with over 1,500 crew and passengers perished at sea.

Separately, The Lusitania was an ocean liner that was sunk off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915. The liner had a number of American citizens on board and this attack on a civilian vessel presaged the United States Declaration of War on Germany in 1917.

There were at least 145 local crew members on board the Lusitania when it was sunk.

Joseph Parry from Aintree, along with Leslie Morton from Wallasey are widely considered to be heroes of the Lusitania.

When the liner began to sink, the two men jumped in the sea after a lifeboat that had begun to float away, they ripped off the cover of the boat and rescued around 50 people. They took them to a safe place before returning to save around more 30 people from a sinking lifeboat. Together, the men saved nearly 100 lives and in recognition of their bravery, they were awarded medals for gallantry.

Parry and Morton showed exceptional courage and determination that day and fortunately survived.

Others were not so fortunate. John Henry Hayes was a junior engineer at the time of the disaster. He had left his pregnant wife in their home in Bootle, unaware he would not see them again. No record of his final moments survived nor was his body ever found.

In the days following the sinking of the Lusitania, anti-German riots swept through the region. Despite the misguided, xenophobic anger of many, many residents sheltered and protected German neighbours and friends. These people displayed a heroism which teaches us all to be tolerant and accepting in the face of xenophobia and racism.

To vote for this Sefton figure in our public poll please click here

Spotlight On: Frederick J Hooper

Frederick J Hooper

From Southport to the South Pole, Frederick J Hooper makes Southport’s local history global. A 19-year-old boy from Southport made his name half way around the world.

Hooper was a member of the British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913. The aim of the expedition was to study various scientific and geological topics. However, he was ultimately famous for being a member of the search party sent out to discover the grim fate of the members of the Terra Nova Expedition.

The aim of the Terra Nova Expedition was to carry out scientific and geological experiments as well as to join the race to be the first people to reach the geographic South Pole.

The Terra Nova team were unlucky on all accounts, not only was their mission ill-fated, but they also failed to be the first to reach the geographic South Pole, a Norwegian team got to the Pole first.

The team got into difficulty on their return journey. Battling the elements, disease and lack of provisions; the team finally succumbed in March 1912.

Hooper and the other members of the search party found the bodies of most of the Terra Nova team eight months later, some members of the team were never found.

Hooper is a fine example of Southport’s kind heart and spirit. Upon discovering the bodies, Hooper sacrificed his own skis to fashion a cross as a memorial to the fallen men.

The cross was placed atop a cairn of snow to mark their resting place.

Hooper returned to Southport with the skis of Captain Oates, a member of the team who is believed to have sacrificed himself for the survival of his fellow expeditioners.

These skis are held in The Atkinson, Southport in memory of both men.

To vote for this Sefton figure in our public poll please click here

Spotlight On: Thomas Fresh

Thomas Fresh


Resident of Freshfield, Thomas Fresh is considered by many to be the pioneer of British environmental health.

Fresh, praised for his ‘zeal and devotedness,’ lay the groundwork for a cleaner, safer space for all of us.

Born on a farm in Dalton-in-Furness into a mining and trading family, Fresh did not receive a formal education, something that led to him being overlooked in later life.

Despite this, Fresh ‘showed such intelligence, zeal, and activity’ that he was promoted to Inspector of Nuisances in Liverpool in 1844.

This role was varied and built upon his work as a policeman where he was involved in various environmental health projects. He served as Superintendent of Alms Houses and Superintendent of Scavengers which involved working with the very poor and dealing with waste and refuse collection.

The work Fresh carried out as Inspector of Nuisances has led some to laud him as the forefather of today’s environmental health practitioners.

Fresh’s team were not trained and his department was established without existing infrastructure to assist them. Fresh built a functioning system with very little resource and the department became a model for other local authorities.

Fresh received a small salary compared with other colleagues and his team made a big difference with very little.

One paper hailed his work saying: ‘Their services are secured for little more than £1200 a year, a proof that in this department, at least, no extravagant salaries are given. The inspector, who brings to his work a zeal and devotedness rarely witnessed in public service of long standing, has only £170 a year.’

His work led, in the words of a contemporary, to ‘an astonishing decrease in those particular diseases which are generally considered to prevail in badly sewered and badly ventilated districts. Much good has undoubtedly been done by the Health Committee and their officers.’

To honour the work of Thomas Fresh, Liverpool John Moores University hosts an annual public health lecture in his name.

Alongside his work in environmental health, Fresh was a prominent member of the community, with enough local influence to have a rail station built on behalf of his neighbours.

Freshfield Station was built in 1854, a lasting testament to Thomas Fresh and his contribution to community and local health.

To vote for this Sefton figure in our public poll please click here

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