Most of us would be hard pushed to name three famous people from the Peak District, so like us you may be surprised at the number of them. It really is amazing how such a small region was home to quite so many world changers.
Several of the Peak District’s heroes were instrumental in pioneering mass-production technology and methodology in the mills and factories that sprang up across Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire and beyond. Towns like Belper and Buxton were at the heart of the Industrial Revolution and some of the Peak Districts most tenacious and hardworking sons like William Strutt, Joseph Whitworth and Samuel Slater took these ideas to America.
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)
Perhaps the most famous person to have lived in the Peak District - one the world’s best known nurses, who looked after soldiers at the Crimean War. Florence was named after the Italian city of her birth. When her family moved home to the UK, they had a house built at Lea in the Peak District, called Lea Hurst, where Florence spent most summers until her death in 1910. The ‘Lady with the Lamp’ as she was known, is one of the greatest humanitarians of the 19th century for her services to the British Army and its injured soldiers. At her hospital camp, she was known for her strict sanitary rules and this reduced mortality dramatically. For many years she was on the British £10 note too.
Actor Sir Alan Bates (1934-2003)
One of our most prized stage and film actors, having grown up in Allestree, Sir Alan Bates went on to join the army before taking up acting in Coventry. His main films are the Peak District-set Women in Love (Dir Ken Russell 1969), famed for its naked wrestling scene with Oliver Reed, the original Far From The Madding Crowd (Dir John Schlesinger 1969) and Zorba The Greek (Dir Mihalis Kakogiannis 1960). After a high profile in the 1960s he took on several big roles before his death in 2003 including Gosford Park (Dir Robert Altman 2001), The Sum of All Fears (Dir Phil Alden Robinson 2002) and The Mothman Prophecies (Dir Mark Pellington 2002).
Actor John Hurt (1940 - 2017)
John Hurt is from Shirebrook and retains strong links to the region. He rose to prominence quickly and after being cast as Quentin Crisp in the Naked Civil Servant for the BBC in 1975, he grew in popularity. His most famous roles have been in Hollywood hits like The Elephant Man (Dir David Lynch 1980), Alien (Dir Ridley Scott 1979), various Harry Potter films, TV’s Dr Who, and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (Dir John Madden 2001). His career shows no sign of slowing despite being in his late 70s at the time of writing.
Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood (1940 - )
Well known in the fashion industry, Vivienne Westwood is from Tintwistle. At the age of 14 she moved away to Harrow in Essex. Her fashion career didn’t take off until she met and married Malcolm McLaren, manager of the punk band The Sex Pistols and singer of Buffalo Gals and more. She is known as one of the most famous fashion designers in the world for her creations and fashion collections such as Cut and Slash, and the Red Label. She now lives in Italy with her second husband, Andreas Kronthaler.
Football manager and football player Brian Clough (1935 – 2005)
Well known for being the outspoken football manager of Nottingham Forest and Derby County. He was born in Middlesborough but lived in Quarndon and Allestree during his years managing Derby County.
Other well-known people who were born or lived in the area are:
John Allen (1775 - unknown) – Explorer / Mineralogist (HMS Investigator, Australia).
Thomas Allsop (1795 – 1880) – Author and publisher of Coleridge’s Letters.
Richard Arkwright (1732-1792) – Pioneer of the factory system.
Anthony Babington (1561-1586) – Executed for his role in the Babington Plot for grand treason (A foiled assassination plot on Elizabeth I).
Vera Brittain (1893 – 1970) – Pacifist / Feminist / Journalist / Public speaker / Novelist / Poet. Author of Testament of Youth.
Tim Brooke-Taylor (1940 - ) – Actor / Comedian / Writer.
Henry Cavendish (1731 – 1810) – Scientist.
Thomas Cook (1808 -1892) - Founder of the World Wide Travel Agency (WWTA).
William Emes (1730–1803) – Gardener.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) – Poet /Essayist.
Robert Lindsay (1949 - ) – Actor.
Arthur Lowe (1948 – 1972) – Actor.
Ellen MacArthur (1976 - ) - Yachtswoman.
William Peverell (c.1040 – c.1115) – Norman Knight at Battle of Hastings.
Henry Royce (1863 -1933) – Co-founder of Rolls Royce cars.
George Turner (1841 – 1910) – Landscape artist.
Walk in the footsteps of the Peak District famed and fabulous. Why not stay in the area? We offer a fine portfolio of Peak District Cottages.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.