Local Celebrities Past and Present.
At the time of writing, there’s a lot in the press about Manchester United’s flamboyant Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimović taking up residence in The Heatons and it got me thinking about how many other famous people have made The Heatons their home over the years. For the definitive answer, you can buy a copy of Ian Wardle’s and Phil Rowbotham’s excellent publication, 54 famous residents of the Four Heatons, which is available from the Stockport Heritage Shop in St Mary’s Church. I’m sure they won’t mind that I’ve dipped into their book to trace some of the more famous people who have had the SK4 postcode as their address.
We’re all familiar with the sights and sounds of aircraft around these parts, so it’s interesting to note that Sir John William Alcock, KBE DSC, who, with his co-pilot, Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown, flew the first non-stop trans-Atlantic flight on 14th/ 15th June 1919, attended St Thomas’ Primary School and lived for a while, with his family in a house on Shaw Road. Sir John’s house is now demolished, but if you look through the gate of number 26 Shaw Rd, just opposite the Heatons Tandoori, you’ll see a blue plaque on the wall near the front door to commemorate the former residence of Cecil Kimber who, in 1914, began working for Morris Garages, producing his first MG Sports car in 1924, and, eventually, becoming the managing director of the famous company.
On a more sombre note, Albert Pierrepoint, Britain’s most prolific executioner, lived on Mauldeth Road in Heaton Mersey until, upon retirement, he moved to Southport. It’s estimated that he executed around 433 men and 17 women during his career, including 200 Nazi war criminals and six U.S. soldiers. He famously hanged Timothy Evans for the murder of his wife and daughter in March 1950, before it was discovered that his neighbour, John Christie, had actually committed the crime. Albert was always sceptical about the nature of his job and was quoted as saying, ‘It is said to be a deterrent. I cannot agree. 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.’ His fee for undertaking a hanging in 1932 was 1.5 guineas, around £100 in today’s money.
There have been no shortage of the stars of stage and screen making their homes in The Heatons. Joan Bakewell was brought up in Hooley Range, just off Heaton Moor Road. She was educated at Stockport High School for Girls and went on to study Economics and History at Cambridge. When taking the role of host in BBC’s ‘Late Night Line-Up’ in the late Sixties, she was dubbed ‘the thinking man’s crumpet’ by television personality Frank Muir; an epithet she intensely disliked.
Music Hall impresario, Fred Karno, lived in The Heatons for some years, marrying his first wife, Edith Cuthbert, who was a local girl from Green Lane. He was a star of British music hall, working with Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin, and is credited with inventing the custard-pie-in-the-face comedy routine. Justin Moorhouse, Sally Lindsay and Gary ‘Mani’ Mountfield, from the Stone Roses, are contemporary stars you might bump into in any of the cafés and pubs dotted around The Heatons.
And we have our very own Hobbit, Dominic Monaghan, who attended St Anne’s School in Heaton Chapel before finding fame as Meriadoc Brandybuck in Peter Jackson’s adaptations of ‘Lord of The Rings’.
Sports stars too have graced The Heatons over the years. Brother and sister Liam and Naomi Broady, are both ex-Priestnall pupils who are carving out careers in the intensely competitive world of international tennis. And we have a current Olympic hockey champion, Kate Richardson-Walsh, who also attended Priestnall and carried the GB Flag in the closing ceremony in Rio. Perhaps our most famous sporting icon though, is England cricketer Brian Statham, who along with ‘Fiery’ Freddie Trueman, formed England’s pace bowling attack during the 1960s. Brian took 252 test wickets at an average of 24.27 and is universally acknowledged as one of the sport’s greats. He captained Lancashire and for many years lived on St James Road in Heaton Moor.
So, if you’d like to know more about our other famous residents why not pop along to Stockport Heritage Centre and pick up a copy of Ian and Phil’s book. For the bargain price of £2, it makes fascinating reading.