Famous Blackpool People

22 May 2012
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First Mayor of Blackpool 1876-7-8. William. Henry Cocker Esq. J.P.

An Evening Gazette feature about William H Cocker, with extracts from Ted Lightbown.

William was born on December 9th 1836 in a house built by his father at Hygiene Terrace on the promenade where the Lewis’s store was located a few years ago, later Woolworths, now T.J. Hughes. In 1858, he married Betsey Pilling of Rochdale, who died in 1908. Their marriage was childless, as was his brother’s. William’s father was Dr John Cocker, who came to Blackpool from Tockholes, near Darwen, in 1828

He too had been a Blackpool pioneer, erecting the resort’s first public entertainment hall, the Victoria Promenade, in 1837. It survived at the corner of Victoria Street and Bank Hey Street until demolished just 11 years ago. It is now the site of a fancy jewellery shop. John Cocker married Jane, the younger daughter of Henry Banks, whose estate stretched up Church Street in the early years of the 19th century. In 1851, Dr John Cocker bought Bank Hey House at the top of Victoria Street. In 1875, three years after John’s death, William was able to offer his late father’s house and other former Banks’ land for the site of the Winter Gardens and, in fact, part of the 1846 house survives inside the Winter Gardens today

1875 was also the year that Dr Cocker gave up his practise as a surgeon and opened a menagerie and aquarium to the public in what had been the Prince of Wales Arcade and previously the large mansion West Hey

It became the site of the Tower and the aquarium was incorporated into the Tower Buildings, an area which survived until Merlin’s current work of turning it into a dungeon attraction. The fish and other aquatic creatures are said to have gone down the promenade to the Sea Life centre

The man who was Blackpool’s first mayor and first freeman died on Good Friday April 14th 1911, and was buried on April 18th. Buried at St. John’s church in the town centre, and relocated during recent work in the area known as St. John’s Square

His philosophy was that money was there to be used, and he spent much on entertaining, most famously when he picked up the tab for the lavish banquet held for the Lord Mayor of London and the mayors of 68 towns at the opening of the Winter Gardens in 1878

Having once lived in large bungalows on Bond Street and at Bloomfield Road, now the site of a Lidl store, he ended up in relative poverty in a modest house on Whitegate Drive

Blackpool received its Charter of Incorporation and became a Municipal Borough on January the 21st 1876 and “Progress” was chosen as the town motto.

Academia and research

Valerie Austin (born 1948), hypnotherapist and writer


Arts and entertainment

Bill Ashton (born 1936), jazz saxophonist and composer

David Atherton (born 1944), conductor

David Ball (born 1959), music producer and musician

Zoë Ball (born 1970), television and radio presenter

Zoë Louise Ball (born 23 November 1970 in Blackpool, Lancashire)is an English television and radio personality, most famous for becoming the first female host of the BBC Radio 1 breakfast show and for her earlier work presenting the 1990’s children’s show, Live & Kicking

Steve Barker (born 1971), film director and screenwriter

Lennie Bennett (1938–2009), comedian and television presenter

Lennie Bennett (26 September 1938 – 8 April 2009) was an English comedian and game show host.  After attending the Palatine Secondary School in Blackpool, Bennett became a journalist for the West Lancashire Evening Gazette before becoming a professional entertainer and appearing on The Good Old Days in 1979. Bennett starred in the Lennie and Jerry Show with Jerry Stevens. It ran from 1978 to 1980. He was also the host of Punchlines and Lucky Ladders in the 1980’s

Cathryn Bradshaw, born 1964 actress theatre, television, radio, film

Charlie Cairoli (1910–1980), Italian-born clown based in Blackpool

Roy Calley, journalist

Frank Carson, Northern Irish comedian based in Blackpool

Peter Chelsom (born 1956), film director and actor

Jenna-Louise Coleman (born 1986), actress

Robert Crampton (born 1964), journalist

Raine Davison (born 1984), actress

John Evan (born 1948), musician

Sonny Flood (born 1989), actor

Dan Forshaw (born 1981), musician

Errol Fuller (born 1947), author and painter

Hamish Hamilton (born 1966), concert and award ceremony director

Jeffrey Hammond (born 1946), musician

Roy Harper (born 1941), musician

Barney Harwood (born 1979), television presenter

Emilios Hatjoullis (born 1939), cartoonist and graphic designer

Curtis Jobling (born 1972), illustrator and animator

Patrick Keiller (born 1950), film director

Jacqueline Leonard (born 1965), actress

Little Boots (Victoria Hesketh, born 1984), singer-songwriter

Syd Little (born 1942), comedian

Joe Longthorne (born 1955), singer

Chris Lowe (born 1959), musician

Chris Lowe (born Christopher Sean Lowe, 4 October 1959) is an English musician, who, with colleague Neil Tennant, makes up the pop duo Pet Shop Boys. Chris attended Arnold School, an independent school in his home town of Blackpool, Lancashire. He also worked in the Solarium. While there, Lowe played trombone in a seven-piece dance band called One Under the Eight, that played old-time favourites like “Hello Dolly”, “La Bamba” and “Moon River”

John Mahoney (born 1940), US actor (born in Bispham)

Nicholas McCarthy (born 1974), musician

Tania Mallet (born 1941), model and actress

Gary Miller (1924–1968), singer and actor

Pauline Moran, actress

David Morley (born 1964), poet

Janet Munro (1934–1972), actress

Sarah Myerscough, sculptor

Graham Nash (1942), singer-songwriter

Bernadette Nolan (born 1960), Irish-born singer and actress

Coleen Nolan (born 1965), singer and television presenter

Jodie Prenger (born 1979), singer and actress

Maddy Prior (born 1947), singer

Carol Royle (born 1954), actress

Nikki Sanderson (born 1984), actress and model

Robert Smith (born 1959), musician

John Sumner (born 1951), actor

David Thewlis (born 1963), actor

Darrell Till (born 1975), singer-songwriter

Vicki-Lee Walberg, model

John Watson, comic book artist

Chris Wiggins (born 1931), actor

Tony Williams (born 1947), musician



Mike Bateson, former football club chairman

William Lyons (1901–1985), co-founder of the Swallow Sidecar Company

Owen Oyston (born 1934), business man and football club owner

Owen John Oyston (born in County Durham in January 1934) is a controversial self-made multimillionaire English businessman who is the majority owner of Blackpool F.C. At the age of two, Oyston’s family moved to Blackpool. He was educated at St. Mary’s Catholic College. He left school at sixteen and started his career as an actor. He briefly starred as a barrister in Granada TV’s 1970s afternoon television courtroom drama series, Crown Court.



John Schofield (VC) (1892–1918), soldier and Victoria Cross recipient


Politics, government and legal

George Carman (1929–2001), barrister

Neil Fletcher (born 1944), politician

Tom McNally (born 1943), politician


Science and health

Sheila Quinn (born 1920), nurse

Michael Smith (1932–2000), biochemist


William Anderton (born 1879), footballer

Jimmy Armfield (born 1935), footballer

Paul Askham (born 1962), figure skater

Malcolm Barrass (born 1924), footballer

Chris Beech (born 1974), footballer and coach

Matthew Blinkhorn (born 1985), footballer

Jamie Burns (born 1984), footballer

Alan Burton (born 1991), footballer

Joe Cardle (born 1987), footballer

Louis Cardwell (1912–1986), footballer

Ronnie Clayton (1923–2007), boxer

Harry Cookson (1869–1922), footballer

Kenny Cooper, Sr. (born 1946), footballer and coach

Steven Croft (born 1984), cricketer

Ciaran Donnelly (born 1984), footballer

Teddy Duckworth (born 1882), footballer

Dave Durie (born 1931), footballer

George Eastham (born 1936), footballer

George Eastham, Sr. (1914–2000), footballer and manager

David Edge (born 1954), long-distance runner

Lester Ellis (born 1965), boxer

Andy Gouck (born 1972), footballer

Peter Harding (1924–2007), rock climber

Steve Harrison, footballer, manager and coach

Steve Hill (born 1940), footballer

John Hills (born 1978), footballer

Micky Holmes (born 1965), footballer

John Hurst (born 1947), footballer

Herbert Jones (1896–1973), footballer

Matty Kay (born 1989), footballer

Darran Kempson (born 1984), footballer

Roger Kenyon (born 1949), footballer

Graham Lancashire (born 1972), footballer

Brian London (born 1934), boxer originally from Hartlepool

Andrew Lyons (born 1966), footballer

Gavin McCann (born 1978), footballer

Ben Marsden (born 1979), field hockey player

Barrie-Jon Mather (born 1973), rugby player

Jamie Milligan (born 1980), footballer

Kevin Moore (born 1956), footballer

Lee Morris (born 1980), footballer

Reginald Neal (born 1914), footballer

Wes Newton (born 1977), darts player

Michael Page (born 1941), cricketer

Jack Parkinson (1869–1911), footballer

Wilfred Proctor, footballer

Jesse Pye (1919–1984), footballer

James Schofield (born 1978), cricketer

R Shaw (born 1977), footballer

Len Stephenson (born 1930), footballer

Frank Swift (1913–1958), footballer

David Tong (born 1955), footballer

Albert Turner (1901–1985), footballer

Roger Uttley (born 1949), rugby player

Ted Wade (born 1901), footballer

Dennis Wann (born 1950), footballer

Mark Westhead (born 1975), footballer

Daniel Whiston (born 1976), ice skater

Derek Woodman, motorcycle racer

Shelly Woods (born 1986), wheelchair racer



Cynthia Lennon (born 1939), first wife of musician John Lennon

Rachel McLean (1971–1991), murder victim

James Wannerton, medical subject