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Famous People of Calderdale

Ted Hughes House by J. Billingsley

Calderdale has been the home of countless famous people over the centuries, from the time of Sir Thomas Browne who wrote 'Religio Medici' while living in upper Shibden Valley, to Daniel Defoe describes visiting Halifax in volume 2 of his Tour Thro' the whole Island of Great Britain.

Lawrence Sterne, author of 'Tristram Shandy' and 'A Sentimental Journey' also lived in Halifax for some years, and Haugh End, Sowerby, is famous as the birthplace of Dr John Tillotson (1630-1694), Archbishop of Canterbury. William Bramwell Booth (1856-1929), son of General William Booth (1829-1912), who founded the Salvation Army (1878), was also born in Halifax, and took over the organising of the Salvation Army after his father's death.

Well-known writers from Halifax include Bramwell Evens who wrote the 'Romany' series of natural history books, Sir Ted Hughes, OBE (1930-98), who was Poet Laureate (1984), and Dr Phyllis Bentley, famous as a regional novelist. Two controversial writers from Calderdale are Sir Bernard Ingham (born 1932), who was Margaret Thatcher's chief press secretary when she was prime minister, and afterwards wrote his memoirs 'Kill the Messenger' (1991), and Judge James Pickles, whose books 'Straight From the Bench' (1987) and 'Judge For Yourself' (1992) gave him the reputation of a rebel in the legal field.

Two writers of detective fiction who made a name for themselves were Maurice Procter and Dr Frank King, while from Todmorden came the slightly eccentric William Holt, who travelled with his horse 'Trigger.'

In the world of music Sir George Dyson, composer of 'The Canterbury Pilgrims' and the famous tenor Walter Widdop both came from Calderdale.

Three actors from Halifax were the film star Eric Portman, who may be remembered from the film 'The 49th Parallel,' Wilfred Pickles, actor of stage and screen and compere of 'Have a Go,' and Barrie Ingham, who after acting in repertory played in Shakespearean productions and later appeared in films and on television.

A Halifax inventor whose chief product has become known across the world was Percy Shaw. In his travels by car he recognised the vital need for some form of illuminated road markings and after many trials he perfected his reflecting road studs which line the motorways in this and many other countries making driving far safer as a result.

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