Notable people of Acocks Green
This page draws attention to people who have had a significant association with Acocks Green, whether it be because they were born here, went to school here, or lived or worked here. The people mentioned are in no particular order. Thanks to Mike Wood for many of the suggestions.
Rev. Rann Kennedy (1771-1851)
He lived at Fox Hollies, later remodelled into the Hall by Zaccheus Walker III. Rann went to Cambridge University in 1791, where he became friends with both Coleridge and Wordsworth. He took holy orders and became a teacher at King Edward's School, Birmingham. He became curate at St. Paul's Chapel, then incumbent from 1817 until a few years before his death. He was a poet and a also a friend of Washington Irving. For more information, see here.
The 10th Earl of Egmont
Frederick Joseph Trevelyan Perceval, the 10th Earl of Egmont, was buried in an unmarked grave at St. Mary's in 1932. He was born in Acocks Green on 27th April 1873. His father was George Drummond Ince Perceval, and his mother was Marianne Baxter. His own family and three uncles lived in Acocks Green at one time or another, so that there was a strong Perceval family connection with Acocks Green and Yardley. All these brothers were grandsons of the Prime Minister Spencer Perceval, who was assassinated in 1812. For more information see here.
James Neville Marshall, V.C.
Born in Manchester in 1887, his family moved to Oxford Road around 1894 (number 13, we believe, originally known as Melrose), his father being a draper. For a short while around 1903 they moved to another house on The Avenue: Springfield, now 128, but then returned to Oxford Road around 1906, but this time to number 5, originally Beechcroft. James Neville went to King Edwards School, and after leaving worked at the Birmingham and Midland Institute and Birmingham University. He studied veterinary practice, then worked in this field in Harlow, Essex. This may have been from around 1909/10. His sisters ran Eastbourne House School while it was on the Warwick Road, from about 1910. He started off the First World War in Argentina, buying horses, but then enlisted in the Irish Guards, was wounded many times and was finally killed in the same action as Wilfrid Owen. Before his posthumous V.C. he had been awarded the M.C. and Bar. His and Owen's memorials are close to each other (http://www.1914-18.co.uk/owen/sambre_oise.htm). This page also contains a not especially flattering description of Marshall by Owen.
....Commanding them that day was Acting Lieutenant-Colonel Marshall of the ten wounds who called for a party of volunteers to repair the broken bridge in front of his position. They rose to him and wrestled with the wire and the small cork rafts at the water's edge until all were killed or wounded. Standing over them, fully exposed on the bank, Marshall for a moment turned his broad back on the enemy and bellowed for another party of volunteers. Again they came forward and he cursed and encouraged them as they went to work. Miraculously, enough survived to repair the bridge and push it out over the whipped water. Marshall led his men across, only to fall on the far bank with his eleventh and final wound. Through this hurricane the small figure of Wilfred Owen walked backwards and forwards between his men, patting them on the shoulder, saying "Well done" and "You're doing very well, my boy." He was at the water's edge, giving a hand with some duckboards, when he was hit and killed.... (0riginal source not known, quoted at
Most of the 200 casualties suffered in the Battle of the Sambre were from the 16/Lancashire Fusiliers, commanded by Marshall, who continued to attack despite facing machine gun fire. The Official History of the War points out that other units did not press ahead with attacks under similar circumstances, so the question can be asked if some of those casualties, including Marshall himself, could have been avoided.
Marshall was also mentioned in Pat Barker's First World War novel The Ghost Road. "By temperament and training a warrior. Bold, cunning, ruthless, resolute, quick of decision, amazingly brave"..."He said his men stand no chance of getting up the slope with machine-guns intact above them and no cover. Building a bridge in the open under the sort of fire we're likely to encounter is impossible. The whole operation's insane. The chances of success are zero."
Thanks to Chris Sutton for alerting us to James Neville Marshall and supplying information. Chris is researching all V.C.s and George Crosses with a Birmingham connection. If anyone has any information that could help him, please contact us.
Born 26 January 1922 in Sparkhill, he went to Acocks Green School before becoming a footballer. He played for and managed Birmingham City, and was regarded as one of the best goalkeepers of his time, playing for the national team on twenty-three occasions between 1951 and 1954. Somewhat unfairly, he is remembered for two matches against Hungary in 1953 and 1954 when they put thirteen goals past him. In September 2009 he was honoured in the Birmingham Walk of Stars on Broad Street. He died on 3rd February 2010.
Anne Heywood, film star
Born Violet Joan Pretty, she was born on 11th December 1931 in Handsworth. Her father Harold was a former orchestral violinist, now working in factories. The family was not well off. She joined St Mary's School at the end of August 1938 from York Road School. Around 1955 she was spotted by a talent scout for Rank while playing the principal boy in Aladdin at the Chelsea Palace. That year she changed her name to Anne Heywood, and in 1956 was given a seven year contract with Rank as an actress. In 1957 she had a part in "Doctor at large", and a string of other films followed.
Born Robert Davis on March 14 1945, he went to Acocks Green Junior and Infants School, and then to Moseley School. He lived at 40 Shaftmoor Lane, a road which he later referred to as sounding like the home of serial rapists! He first came to attention at the Boggery Folk Club in Solihull. His first single, Funky Moped/Magic Roundabout, sold nearly a million copies in 1975. However it is his rampant mocking humour which shot him to stardom, not his musical abilities. In 1978 he had his first TV series, with London Weekend, and in 1979 he became ITV Personality of the year, but the BBC waited until 1992 to offer him the same accolade. He was awarded an O.B.E. in 2003 for his services to charity. His daughter Lucy is well known from The Office.
Born in Jamaica in 1920, he trained as an accountant. After working in Panama and the U.S.A., and experiencing racism and discrimination there as well as earlier in colonial Jamaica, he came to England after World War Two, where he had to make do with factory work. He was the first black representative on the Birmingham Trades Council. He published many articles and other material against the colour bar. He spent the last part of his life in Acocks Green, dying in 2007. The City Council website has information on him.
Lorraine Hanson, Olympic athlete
Lorraine was born in Manchester on 22nd April 1965. She came to Birmingham when about three years old, and lived in Small Heath at first. The family moved to Acocks Green around 1972, and Lorraine attended St Mary's school until the age of eleven. Perhaps her greatest achievement was to be a member of the 4x400 metres relay team that ran the fastest ever time for a U.K. Women's team, the third fastest ever for a Commonwealth team, and the fifth fastest ever for a European team. This took place at the World Athletics Championships in Tokyo in August 1991. They came fourth. In 1991 Birchfield Harriers awarded her their principal trophy. Lorraine featured in three of the six fastest runs ever made by U.K. 4x400 metres relay teams.
Lorraine Hanson, Olympic athlete
Clint Warwick, born Albert Clinton Eccles on 25th June 1940 in Aston, lived on Yarnfield Road near Spring Road. He was the bassist in the original Moody Blues line-up, but left in 1966 to be a carpenter. He died in 2004:
Dave, of Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull, was born in Acocks Green in 1947.
Born Panayiotis Paphides, Peter is a British journalist. He is the chief rock critic of The Times and presents The Times' weekly music podcast for Sounds Music supplement. Paphides was born in Birmingham to a Greek Cypriot father, Chris, and a Greek mother, Victoria. He has an elder brother, Aki. His father ran the 'Great Western' fish bar in Acocks Green, and the family lived upstairs. In 1979, the family moved to the suburb of Olton, where his father ran the 'King Fisher' (now 'George's Fish Bar'). (Wikipedia)
Zena and her brother worked in the family fruiterers and greengrocery business in Acocks Green. She was born on 7th March 1934. She became a well known actress on stage, and especially on television, for example in Man at the Top. She starred opposite Albert Finney in the film The Dresser, and earned a Tony for her performance, again alongside him, in A Day in the Death of Joe Egg on its Broadway run in 1968. She died in 2003:
Dave Willetts, singer in musicals, was born in Marston Green on 24th June 1952 and was brought up in Acocks Green. While working for British Leyland, he got involved in amateur drama and his ability was spotted. He sang in the lead role of Valjean in Les Miserables in 1986, and took over the lead role from Michael Crawford in The Phantom of the Opera, and is famous as a top class musicals singer:
Charlie Aitken played for Aston Villa from August 1959 until May 1976, making a total of 656 appearances, a club record. He played at left back. At the end of his career he played in the U.S.A. for New York Cosmos with Pele.
Jimmy Dugdale won the F.A. Cup with W.B.A. in 1954 and Aston Villa in 1957, and the League Cup with Villa in 1961. He retired from the game in 1963 to become a publican in Witton. He lived in Acocks Green at the time of his death.
Mike Tindall, who comes from Acocks Green, played for Aston Villa from 1956 to 1961. He was an England Under-23, but a broken leg affected his career.
Maurice Herriott was a local athlete, who ran for Sparkhill Harriers, and who won a silver medal in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo in the 3000 metre steeplechase. He is now the President of the Isle of Man Athletic Association.
The actor Bill Simpson (1931-86) lived at number 16 Dudley Park Road from about 1947-54, and went to Waverley School. He became famous as Doctor Finlay in Dr Finlay’s casebook, and felt somewhat hampered or typecast by that success in later life.
Ernest Henry Wilson
‘Chinese’ Wilson is one of the most famous of all the plant hunters. He was born in Chipping Camden in 1876, and his family had moved to Streetsbrook by 1881 and to Monkspath Hill by 1891. His father was a signalman. Ernest worked initially in Solihull, then at the Botanical Gardens from 1893-7, then at Kew, and he made several trips to China from 1899. He and his family eventually moved to the U.S. around 1910 and he and his wife were killed there in a car accident in 1930. His family were listed at Holly Bank (? number 27) on Stockfield Road in the 1901 census. Curiously, Ernest is also listed there as a botanist and employer, although he was plant-hunting for Veitch of Chelsea in China at the time! It appears possible that Ernest Wilson may have been living on Stockfield Road in Acocks Green during part of his employment at the Botanical Gardens: his family certainly were. He spent most of the time in digs in Edgbaston, where he met his future wife Ellen Ganderton. His wife and daughter went to stay with his family in Acocks Green during some of the trips he made abroad from his new job in the United States, for example from 1910-11 and 1920-2. He himself was in Acocks Green for three months in 1911 following a leg injury sustained in China. By 1912 his mother Annie and sister(s) were at 209 Yardley Road, Acocks Green. His sister May was a florist. She was listed at 209 in the 1925 electoral roll, with a business on Spiceal Street. An Annie May married a Stephen John Butler, and they are listed at 213, on the corner of Yardley and Wynford Roads, in 1930 and 1939. With them were Dorothy and Charles Turland. We have been kindly informed by Mr and Mrs Oliver of Olton that Dorothy’s mother was also a Wilson before marriage, and was May and Ernest’s sister (?Flora), who had died.
Roy W. Briggs’s book on Wilson (‘Chinese’ Wilson
0-11-250017-X) also establishes the family connection, and has been very helpful in compiling these notes.
Fred Harris was born in Solihull, Warwickshire. He joined Birmingham as a inside-forward in 1933 at the age of 19. He was the club's leading scorer in season 1938–39 with 14 League goals and 17 in all competitions. During World War II he converted to play as a wing-half and played out the rest of his career in that position. His strong tackling and constructive use of the ball impressed manager Harry Storer sufficiently to make him club captain. He is credited with recommending Johnny Berry to Birmingham, having seen him play for an Army team while both were serving in India during the war. He won representative honours for the Football League XI against the Scottish League in 1948–49. He retired from football in 1950, aged nearly 38, having made 312 appearances in all competitions for Birmingham and scored 68 goals. He then became a chiropodist and physiotherapist in the Acocks Green district of Birmingham. Fred Harris died in October 1998 at the age of 86. (Wikipedia)
John Curry, the world famous ice skater and Winter Olympic and World Championship gold medallist in 1976, was brought up in Acocks Green at 946 Warwick Road, now a care home. He displayed great artistry in his skating and was a pioneer in its transformation in the 1970s and 1980s. He died in 1994. A book by Bill Jones is available.
Bernard Godfrey Rainbow
Mr Rainbow of Olton Boulevard East, Chief Locomotive Inspector for the Severn Valley Railway, was awarded an MBE in 2009 for voluntary service to the Rail Industry. He was also involved with Tyseley Railway Museum for many years.
Arthur and Georgie Gaskin
This couple were well known Arts and Crafts jewellers, and their work is now highly prized. They were married in March 1894 and in the 1895 directory they were listed at Richmond Villa on the Warwick Road in Olton. They appear at Fairlea, Victoria Road, Acocks Green in the 1899 directory and also in the 1901 census. This was later number 7 (now the right hand side of Louise Court). Arthur describes himself as an artist, painter and sculptor working from home. Georgie gives herself no such description, but was most definitely co-designer with him. In fact she lost her hair as a result of working with chemicals. By the 1902 directory they were listed at Camden House (number 5, which was unoccupied in the 1901 census. This was a much wider plot, now occupied by Everene House). They were still at Camden House in the 1910 directory. According to the 1911 directory they had moved to Olton again, this time to Newlyn, St. Bernard's Road.
Arthur studied and taught at the Birmingham School of Art and was Head of the Vittoria Street School of Jewellery and Silversmithing from 1903 until 1924. Several examples of their work can be seen on this page. The University of Glasgow has produced a summary of his professional life. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has a page, and there is a Wikipedia article. Details about pieces sold at auction refer to the cases being marked with "Mr and Mrs Arthur Gaskin, Jewellers, Acock's Green", and later with Olton instead of Acocks Green.
William Bloye (1890-1975)
William Bloye was one of Birmingham's most active and best-known sculptors. He was living with his family at 30 Francis Road in 1901. His father Thomas was a hardware dealer on Yardley Road, before 1912 just past Mansfield Road and then at number 156 near Francis Road, and William Bloye is listed at 25 Yardley Road in 1911 (one of the houses in the police station block), and also at Yardley Road on his World War One enlistment form in 1915. By 1921 he was at Golden Hillock Road, married and with his own studio. William eventually became Head of Sculpture at the Birmingham School of Art, from 1929 to 1950. Among many other works, he made the statue of Boulton, Murdoch, and Watt on Broad Street. Locally, the Fox and Hollies bas-relief plaque, now in Lidl's side wall, is his work. This was originally commissioned for the Fox Hollies pub (1928-1997).
Sir Kenneth Sholl Ferrand Corley(1908-2005)
Kenneth Corley was born on Westley Road. He spent his whole working life with Joseph Lucas and Son. He became a Company Director in 1948, and Chief Administrative Officer in 1956. By 1969 he was Chairman and Chief Executive. He was knighted in 1972. (Source: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)
Sir Derek Alan Higgs (1944-2008)
Derek Higgs was born on Sherbourne Road. He was a merchant banker, joining Barings in 1969 and S.G. Warburg and Co. in 1972, where he rose to become Chairman. He led an inquiry for the government into the role of non-executive directors, for which he was knighted in 2004. In 2005 he became Chairman of Alliance and Leicester Bank. He also owned the Guardian newspaper. (Source: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)
Sir (Francis) Arthur Vick (1911-1998)
Arthur Vick was born on Fox Hollies Road. He became a physicist, university lecturer and university administrator at Keele, Queens University, Belfast, and Warwick. He was knighted in 1973 for his work at Belfast. He was also director of the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell. (Source: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)
Maurice Cary Ferdinand Wilks (1904-1963)
Maurice Cary spent part of his career with Rover at Acocks Green whie they were developing tank engines, and was a leading light in the development of the Land Rover after the war, and also the later Range Rover. At a time of difficulties in selling Rover luxury cars, the development of the Land Rover turned the company's fortunes around. He rose to the top of the company, eventually becoming Chairman. (Source: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)
Peter Cranmer (1914-1994)
Peter Cranmer was born on Westfield Road. He became an England international rugby player in the 1930s. By 1938 he was not only the England rugby captain, but also the captain of Warwickshire cricket club! (Source: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)
Philip Cranmer (1918-)
Peter Cranmer's brother. He became a composer of church music, and a university lecturer at Birmingham, and professor at Queen's university, Belfast, and Manchester
Keith Gordon Cox (1933-1998)
Keith Cox was born on Sherbourne Road. He became a geologist and university lecturer, including at Oxford university. He became a world authority on basalt geology. Source: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)
Maude Kate Smith, militant suffragette (1881-1977)
Isabel Maude Kate Smith was born in Acocks Green in 1881. At the time her family was living at Rushey Terrace on Stockfield Road (or Rushall Lane), a then new row of terraces just east of Rushey Lane. She was notorious for slashing a painting in the Royal Academy of Arts, and revealed in an interview that she had been force-fed in Winson Green prison. She also revealed her part in an attempt to breach the Stratford canal at Yardley Wood with a bomb, which would have released eleven miles of water (see the link to Nicola Gauld's book below). She served as secretary of the Women's Social and Political Union in Birmingham.