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Hall of Fame

Below are some famous faces of Rochdale and some brief information about them. If you think we should have anyone else in this list please let us know.

Cyril Smith 

Born: 1902

Occupation: MP

Sir Cyril Smith, MBE (born June 28, 1928, Rochdale) is a British former politician. He served as Liberal (later Liberal Democrat) Member of Parliament for the constituency of Rochdale from 1972 until retiring in 1992.

His larger-than-life personality (and stature — he is believed to be the heaviest British MP ever, having had a peak reported weight of 29 stone 12 pounds, about 190 kilograms) and popular television appearances made him one of the most recognisable British MPs of the 1970s. His nickname, "Big Cyril", was also the title of his autobiography. A common joke on the size of the Parliamentary Liberal Party in the early 1970s was that only one taxi would be needed to transport the entire party; after Smith's election, the party could fill two taxis. Another famously insensitive joke of the time described Sir Cyril as "a man who has had more dinners than you've had hot dinners", an insult he took with commendable good grace.

Lisa Standfields

Born: 1973

Occupation: Singer

Stansfield was born in Heywood, Lancashire in England, there she attended Redbrook School, Rochdale and her first television appearance was on a talent programme in the Granada TV area in 1982. She won it singing The Human League track "The Things That Dreams Are Made Of". The series was produced by the then Head of Light Entertainment at Granada TV, Johnny Hamp.

After releasing several unsuccessful singles in her mid-teens, she co-hosted a Children's TV pop show, Razzmatazz with Alistair Pirrie; additionally, Stansfield could be seen in 1983 children's television series The Krankies Klub, alongside comedian Jimmy Cricket and pop rock band Rocky Sharpe and the Replays. She became an international celebrityin the early 1990s.

Dame Gracie Fields 

Born: 1898

Occupation: Singer

Dame Gracie Fields, DBE (9 January 1898 – 27 September 1979), born Grace Stansfield, was an English-born, later Italian-basedactress, singer and comedienne widely hailed as one of the greatest stars of both cinema and music hall.

Born over a fish and chip shop owned by her grandmother in Molesworth Street, Rochdale, Lancashire, she made her first stage appearance as a child in 1905. Her two sisters, Edith and Betty and brother, Tommy, all went on to appear on stage, but Gracie was the most successful. Her professional debut in variety took place at the Rochdale Hippodrome theatre in 1910 and she soon gave up her job in the local cotton mill.

She met comedian Archie Pitt and they began working together. Pitt would come to serve as her manager and the two married in 1923. Their first revue in 1915 was called Yes I think so and the two continued to tour Britain together until 1922 in the revue Mr Tower of London.

Edwin Waugh

Born: 1817 - 1890

Occupation: Poet

Edwin Waugh (1817 – 1890), poet, son of a shoemaker, was born in Rochdale, Lancashire, and, after a little schooling, apprenticed to a printer.

Waugh read eagerly, and became assistant secretary to the Lancashire Public School Association. He first attracted attention by his sketches of Lancashire life and character in the Manchester Examiner. He wrote also in prose Factory FolkBesom Ben Stories, andThe Chimney Corner. His best work was, perhaps, his Lancashire dialect songs, collected as Poems and Songs (1859), which brought him great local fame. He was possessed of considerable literary gift, and has been called "the Lancashire Burns." Waugh's Well was built in 1866 to commemorate him at the now derelict Fo' Farm, where he spent much time writing, on the moors above Waterfoot, Rossendale. Waugh died at his home in New Brighton, near Liverpool, in 1890 and was buried in St. Paul's churchyard on Kersal Moor.

Bob Mason 


Occupation: Actor.

After leaving school Bob trained in Drama and soon after graduation made his professional debut. He has been acting since the early seventies and is a familiar face on television.

After leaving The Street in '76 Bob played many parts in TV shows such as Strangers, Crown Court (GTV); Warship and Play For Today (BBC) and appeared on stage at The Liverpool Everyman (Zack; The Western Kirkby Cowboy Show) and The Half Moon in London (Dracula; Elizabeth: Almost By Chance A Woman).

In 1981 he joined the Coronation Street scriptwriting team - the only regular cast member to have done this. He stayed until 1989 writing 36 episodes. Whilst at Granada he wrote half of the rock and roll series Studio and episodes of The Practice and had many plays produced in repertory theatres and on the London fringe.

His other stage work includes The Beggars Opera at the Liverpool Everyman Theatre, Ghosts at the Shaw Theatre, Stitched Up, Eight Miles High and Noman Conquests at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton and Stone Free and Midsummer Nights Dream at the Bristol Old Vic. More recently he has appeared in Suicide at the Bolton Octagon Theatre and in The Messiah and The Government Inspector at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Bob died on 21st September 2004 from Cancer

Arthur Pentelow 

Born: 1924

Occupation: Actor

Arthur Pentelow was born in Rochdale on 14th February 1924.

He is best known as Henry Wilkes in Emmerdale Farm, whom he played from the series inception in 1972.

Arthur was always interested in amateur dramatics, but became a police clerk, served in the Royal Navy during WWII and then became a student teacher - where he also joined Bradford Civic Theatre School. From here he went to rep at the Bristol Old Vic and later Northampton and Birmingham and Orson Wells' production of Othello in London.

TV credits include: Z Cars; Armchair Theatre; The Troubleshooters and Play for Today. 

Film credits include: Privilege; Charlie Bubbles; United ! 

He died in 1991 of a Heart Attack



Andy Kershaw 

Born: 1959

Occupation: Presenter

Rochdale, where he was born in 1959, triggered in Andy a curiosity he has never lost. Musically, his horizons were opened up by an early obsession with Bob Dylan. Tracing Dylan’s influences led Andy towards folk, blues, country, soul and gospel.

He went to Leeds University, partly to study politics in the half-hope of becoming a journalist, but chiefly because the student union at Leeds put on the biggest college concerts in the country. 

Andy presented his Radio 1 show for 15 years until he was sacked in May 2000 to be replaced by another dance music programme. He realised Radio 3 was his spiritual new home when Controller Roger Wright told him that what he liked about Andy’s Radio 1 programme was that he never knew what was coming next. Andy is a passionate broadcaster and hates narrowcasting. He launched his Radio 3 career in April 2001 and as before he ignores categories and mixes it all up.

He has won four Sony Radio Awards and lives noisily in north London with his partner Juliette Banner (who owns a restaurant) and his two small children, Sonny and Dolly, the latter named after one of Andy’s heroines, Dolly Parton.


Jack Howarth 

Born: 1896

Occupation: Actor

Jack Howarth was born in Rochdale, Lancashire on 19th February 1896, the son of comic Bert Howarth. He lived at 96 Mitchell Street, Rochdale and was educated at Board Council School where a fellow student was Gracie Fields.

As a child he sold theatre programmes at the Theatre Royal, Rochdale and in 1908 at the age of twelve he began playing juvenile roles on stage. When World War I broke out in 1914 he joined the Lancashire Fusiliers and later transferred to the Bantams, for people under 6ft but was demobbed after just six weeks. Jack then ran a small cinema.

Jack then toured the country in the original productions of Dracula and Frankenstein and met actress Betty Murgatroyd. The couple married in Hull between a matinee and evening performance in July 1929. In 1935 he ran a theatre in Colwyn Bay, North Wales and during World War II he played most of the male roles himself. He stayed there until 1947. Jack then began appearing on television and soon took the role of Maggs in the radio soap Mrs Dale's Diary, a role he played for fourteen years.

Jack made over 100 television appearances and appeared in eighteen films including The Cure For Love (1950); Scotland Yard Inspector (1952); No Three (1953); Hobson's Choice (1953); Professor Tim(1957); and Spring and Port Wine (1970). In 1960 he auditioned for the role of Albert Tatlock in Coronation Street and he made his screen debut in episode one, transmitted on 9 December 1960. He appeared in over 1700 episodes, making his last appearance on 25 January 1984.

When asked by an Independent Television News researcher in 1982 about when he intended to retire (he was 86 at the time), he is reported to have said that he was too old to retire.

Jack was a reluctant subject of This Is Your Life in the early eighties and was awarded the MBE in 1983. He was Vice President of the Stars Organisation for Spastics and raised thousands of pounds from personal appearances for them. Jack lived in Llandudno and stayed at Manchester's Midland Hotel when working on Coronation Street. He died in Llandudno General Hospital on 31 March 1984 at the age of 88 years. His wife Betty and son John were with him.

Anna Friel

Born: 1976

Occupation: Actor

Anna Friel was born on 12th July 1976 ,from Rochdale, North West England

Anna Friel has come a long way since her spell in Brookside. Her character was involved in a string of controversial storylines which all helped to raise her profile. Since leaving the soap, she's enjoyed success in film, theatre and television, with credits including Fields of Gold, Our Mutual Friend and Watermelon.

Liz Kershaw 


Occupation: Radio Presenter

Younger sister of more famous brother Andy, Liz was born and raised in Rochdale and like Andy went to Leeds University before following him into the entertainment business.

Today Liz has a show on BBC Radio 6.

Ginny Buckley

Born: 1970

Occupation: Presenter

Born in Rochdale in 1970.

Former Granada reporter and presenter. Ginny is now a presenter for Sky news.

John Bright

Born: 1811

Occupation: Historical

John Bright (1811-1889)

Due to fierce competition from cheap imported foreign corn in the early 19th century, wealthy and influential gentlemen farmers had lobbied the ruling parliamentary party, the Tories, to prohibit their import by the imposition of Corn Laws in 1815. With this monopoly in place, British corn rose to prohibitive prices, making it impossible for the poor to buy bread. 
The Corn Laws were seen by ordinary people as a symbol of the dominant ruling aristocracy's feudal power over them, and of their unashamed self interest, at the cost of poor people's food. Protests by Lancashire mill-workers at the imposition of such severe measures soon grew. In September 1838, mill owners and local politicians joined protesters in the formation of an Anti-Corn Law League, at the York Hotel in King Street, Manchester, with George Wilson as its chairman. Support grew so fast that a temporary wooden hall was built in St Peters Street to hold protest meetings - it became known as the Free Trade Hall. Later a stone building replaced this original wooden one. 
The Free Trade Hall, the third and now a fine permanent stone building, was built later as a monument to honour the Manchester movement.

Jim Allen 

Born: 1926

Occupation: Screenwriter

Jim Allen (born near Rochdale on 7 October 1926) was a left-wing television and screenwriter of scenes from working-class life, often associated with the realist films of Ken Loach.

A former miner and building worker, he began his career as a writer for Coronation Street (ITV, 1960-) and other TV work includes Loach's famed Days of Hope (BBC, 1975), described by one chronicler as a "Leftist mini-epic about Britain between 1916-26".

He brought a passionately uncompromising approach to all his work, as his three cinema films for Loach attest, his sympathies directed to the underdogs, his anger at their exploiters. The beleaguered father (Ricky Tomlinson) in Raining Stones (d. Loach, 1993) is a typically sympathetic but rigorous character creation.


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