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Spotlight On: Kenny Everett

Kenny Everett
1944-1995

Comedian, radio DJ and television entertainer. Everett was a controversial and complicated figure.
Born Maurice James Christopher Cole in Seaforth on Christmas day 1944, Everett’s first break as an entertainer came in 1962 when he sent a tape to the BBC.

The corporation were impressed but Everett turned down the opportunity at the BBC in favour of the world of pirate radio where his career began as a DJ for Radio London.

Everett’s irreverent style and sharp humour became his trademark. It was his technical mastery as a DJ that made such an impact on the radio industry throughout the 1960s and 70s. Everett’s quick wit and outspoken and rebellious nature made him a household name but also led to him losing his job on more than one occasion.

It was in 1978 with the launch of the Kenny Everett Video Show that his career in television really took off and Everett’s characters had the opportunity to flourish.

The show initially featured Everett in the role as DJ linking between live performances from musicians, the resident dance troupe Hot Gossip and comedy sketches.

Numerous TV and pop stars made guest appearances on the Kenny Everett Video Show including Rod Stewart, Elkie Brooks, Billy Connolly, Kate Bush, Cliff Richard, Freddie Mercury, Terry Wogan and Suzi Quatro. Everett counted many of these amongst his closest friends.

Everett had married Audrey ‘Lady Lee’ Middleton in 1969 but they had divorced ten years later. Everett had struggled with his sexuality, coming out as gay in 1985 and revealing that this had led him attempting to take his own life on more than one occasion.

In 1987 Everett was diagnosed as HIV positive and on 4 April 1995 died of an AIDs related illness at the age of 50.

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Spotlight On: Frank Hornby

Frank Hornby
1863-1936

Inventor, businessman, politician. Frank Hornby was a man of many talents but best known for an invention that was the result of experimentation at home making toys for his children.

Hornby was building models in 1899 made from metal strips held together with nuts and bolts. His realisation that these pieces could be constructed to create a versatile modelling kit from which multiple structures could be built, dismantled and reassembled proved to be a masterstroke.

In 1901 this toy was patented as ‘Mechanics Made Easy’ with the intention to teach basic mechanical principles to young inquiring minds. In 1907 this became ‘Meccano’.

Frank Hornby was a visionary in toy development and production, and he began working on clockwork mechanisms, designing his first O-gauge clockwork train in 1920.

This grew into ‘Hornby Railways’ which, alongside ‘Meccano’ and ‘Dinky Toys’, formed three of the most popular toy lines of the twentieth century and made Meccano Ltd the largest toy manufacturer in Britain throughout the 1920s and 30s. The company is still producing toys to this day.

Hornby made a foray into politics in 1931 when he was elected as a Conservative MP for Everton. His political career was not a long one as he resigned his seat shortly before the 1935 General election.

The success of Hornby’s business made him a very wealthy man allowing him to purchase Quarry Brook mansion in Maghull, where he lived until his death on 21 September 1936. This building is now the Sixth Form for Maricourt Catholic High School.

The Atkinson in Southport houses an exhibition on some of Frank Hornby’s work.

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Spotlight On: Albert Pierrepoint

Albert Pierrepoint

1905 – 1992

Albert Pierrepoint’s story is one that cannot be forgotten in the country’s history on capital punishment. Born in 1905, he was involved in the executions of more than 435 men and women during a career as a hangman that spanned 25 years.

Born into a family of hangmen, both his father and uncle before him were working executioners, Albert is said to have expressed a desire to follow in their footsteps from a very early age.

Pierrepoint was the executioner of many renowned serial murderers, including Gordon Cummins the ‘Blackout Ripper’ and John George Haigh the ‘Acid-bath murderer’. He was also performed the hangings of British Nazi propaganists John Amery and William Joyce, also known as ‘Lord Haw-Haw’, who were sentenced to death for treason.

Following the Second World War Pierrepoint travelled to Austria and Germany to execute over 200 convicted Nazi war criminals including Josef Kramer, the Commandant of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen and Irma Grese, a female SS guard.

In 1955 Pierrepoint hanged Ruth Ellis, a victim of domestic abuse, that had shot dead her abusive partner. At the time, the execution was extremely controversial and is believed to have strengthened public support of the abolition of the death penalty, which came ten years later.

Albert Pierrepoint retired as a hangman in 1956 and in the 1960s he and his wife relocated to Southport where he lived until his death on 10 July 1992, aged 87.

Pierrepoint wrote his memoir Executioner: Pierrepoint in 1974, in which he reconsidered his views on capital punishment as a deterrent, stating:

“All the men and women whom I have faced at that final moment, convince me that in what I have done, I have not prevented a single murder.”

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Spotlight On: James Dunwoody Bulloch

James Dunwoody Bulloch
1823-1901

In 1861 Waterloo was at the centre of a spy ring created by an American secret agent called James Dunwoody Bulloch. Bulloch was a captain in the army of the Confederate States of America and had been sent to England with a mission to raise money for the cause, and commission ships to break the blockade of Confederate held ports.

He arrived with $1 million to commission 6 vessels including the famed CSS Alabama and chose Liverpool as the centre of operations due to the strong cotton links with the southern states and because Lairds shipbuilders was on the doorstep.

James Bulloch was born in Georgia in 1823 and had been a captain in the US navy before joining a private shipping company. When the state of Georgia seceded in 1861 with the other southern states to form the Confederacy, Bulloch could not turn his back on his home state. He offered his services to the Confederacy.

However, the Union navy set up a blockade of southern ports, stopping all shipping, so there was a need to get ships from elsewhere to break the blockade and take the fight to the enemy. Bulloch was appointed to commission ships in secret and he came to Liverpool, ostensibly as a private individual, to do it.

Captain Bulloch brought his family over to provide cover for his operations, but it was a risky business. Bulloch was forced to move regularly to avoid capture by Union agents and in Waterloo alone, he lived in houses on Marine Terrace, Cambridge Road and Wellington Terrace.

His greatest achievement was to commission and successfully launch the CSS Alabama, a surface raider and blockade runner. In its short life, this ship boarded 447 ships, taking 2000 Union prisoners.

However, it was cornered and sunk in a naval battle off the coast of Cherbourg in 1864.

When the Confederate cause was lost in 1865, Bulloch was branded a traitor, with a warrant for his arrest for treason. Forced to live in exile from his beloved home in Georgia, Captain Bulloch spent the rest of his days working as a cotton merchant, living in Waterloo and Liverpool where he died in 1901.

He was never pardoned by the US Government. Patriot or traitor – you decide.

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Spotlight On: Christiana Hartley

Christiana Hartley CBE

1872-1948

Resident of Lord Street, Southport, Christiana Hartley was a social rights activist, welfare rights campaigner, philanthropist, and Liberal Party politician.

Christiana Hartley was born to Martha O’Conner Horsefield and William Pickles Hartley, the founder of Hartley’s Jam company which is still active today. Her family were Primitive Methodists and these religious principles guided her social works later in life.

Christiana Hartley was a woman in a man’s world. Described as possessing ‘masculine vigour and directness’, Hartley held all the positions women, traditionally did not hold.

She served on the Board of Directors at William Hartley and Sons Ltd, she served on the Board of Guardians for poor relief, as a Justice of the Peace, magistrate, became a councillor and ultimately became the Mayor of Southport in 1921.

Her elevation to Mayor of Southport was said to have caused ‘trepidation’ among some male colleagues.

Christiana Hartley was not content to live the sheltered life of a middle-class woman, instead she spent time living among the poor in so-called ‘flophouses’ where multiple families would reside in one room.

Hartley never married, nor did she have children. Hartley preferred instead to dedicate her life to the poor children of Southport; earning herself the moniker: ‘The Children’s Mayor.’

Famously nonpartisan, Hartley donated her salary to a Labour Party project designed to help the poor of Southport and coaxed her father into matching her £500 donation.

Alongside her charitable donations, Hartley opened the two maternity hospitals and promoted education for girls by endowing two scholarships for women at the University of Liverpool and Girton College, Cambridge.

She was awarded a CBE in 1943 for public service to Southport and also received an honourary degree from the University of Liverpool for her philanthropic work.
Christiana Hartley is a role model to the women of Southport; demonstrating kindness, empathy and a refusal to accept the limitations of being a woman in a man’s world.

Hartley is described as possessing ‘clear and concise speech, patience and courage, a love of humanity, and was not afraid to speak her mind.’

Southport’s children and Southport’s history would be poorer without her contribution.

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