Famous Hullensians

Famous Hull born people who are sadly no longer with us.

DW Cara MiaDavid Whitfield (1925-1980) – He was born on the 2nd of February 1925. At one time in the early fifties he was Britain’s most successful solo male singer. He was a choir boy in St. Peter’s Church and loved singing from an early age. At the age of 17 he joined the Navy, and would entertain shipmates. He was spotted by a talent scout who saw him appearing in a hotel in London and was signed up to Decca records. After a couple of releases he made “Bridge Of Sighs” and then, “Answer Me” which went to no.1 in the charts. His most famous song is probably Cara Mia which spend 10 weeks at no.1 in 1954. His final hit was a re-issue of “I Believe” in 1960 but that did not take off because a new wave of music called “rock n roll” had arrived. He also sang the theme tune to “William Tell” the 1950’s TV series with Conrad Philips. He died of a brain hemorrhage on 16th January 1980 while on tour in Australia and was cremated there, but his ashes were flown back to the UK and scattered in the sea, near Spurn Point. statue is located in Kingston Square opposite the New Theatre, a venue where he performed on many occasions. There is a statue of him in Kingston Square opposite the New Theatre, where he performed on many occasions.

Ian Carmichael

Ian Carmichael (1920-2010) He was born on 18th June 1920. He went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, to train as an actor after finishing college. He served in the Royal Armoured Corps as a commissioned officer in the 22nd Dragoons, achieving the rank of Major, he served until 1947. He served in the Normandy campaign, losing the tip of one finger to an accident with the turret hatch of a Valentine tank. He played in quite a lot of The World of Wooster series, The Colditz Story, School for Scoundrels and many others. He acted until just before his death on 5th February 2010.

Amy JohnsonAmy Johnson (1903-1941) was born on 1st July 1903. She was educated at the Boulevard Secondary School and went on to University in Sheffield where she graduated with a degree in economics. She worked in London as secretary to a solicitor. She gained a pilots license on 6 July 1929 and in that same year, she became the first British woman to obtain a ground engineer’s licence. In 1930, she became the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia flying her Gipsy Moth a journey of 11,000 miles. In July 1931, with her co-pilot Jack Humphreys, became the first pilots to fly from London to Moscow in one day, 1,760 miles in 21 hours. From there, they flew to Japan setting another world record for the fastest time

In 1932, Johnson married famous Jim Mollison, who proposed to her only eight hours after they had met. In 1938 they divorced and she reverted to her maiden name.

During the Second World War she served in the Air Transport Auxiliary, transporting aircraft across the country. On 5 January 1941, while flying an Airspeed Oxford from Blackpool to RAF Kidlington near Oxford, she went off course in bad weather conditions and having ran out of fuel, she bailed out into the Thames Estuary.She was spotted by the crew of the HMS Haslemere who saw her alive in the water. There was a heavy sea and a strong tide, and it was very cold with snow  falling when Lt Cmdr Walter Fletcher, the commander of Haslemere, dived into the water to try and rescue her. He died in the attempt and her she died and her body was never recovered.

In 1999, a retired gunner, Tom Mitchell, claimed he was ordered to shoot her down, believing she was a enemy aircraft. She had apparently failed on two occasions to give the correct identification code during the flight. He said that sixteen rounds of shells were fired and the plane dived into the Thames Estuary and the officers told him never to tell anyone. 

jr-rankJ Arthur Rank (1888 – 1972) He was born on 23rd December 1888. His father was Joseph Rank who had a large flour milling business. His father thought he would continue to work in the family business, but he started one of his own, Peterkins Self-Raisin Flour, but it failed so he went back to work in his fathers business. When his father died he inherited and he business which is now owned by British food conglomerate Premier Foods.

In his middle age he taught Methodist Sunday School where he began to show religious films. This expanded to other churches and schools and he formed the Religious Film Society. In 1934 Arthur, Lady Yule and John Corefield formed the British National Films Company In 1935, they produced their first feature film called Turn of the Tide, but it was only the second half of a double feature. In 1934 Charles Boot, a Yorkshire house builder, decided to construct a new film studio in Buckinghamshire set among the Pine trees in the grounds of a mansion called Heatherden Hall, that he had recently bought. It was named Pinewood Film Studios and was completed within a year and by 1935 the British National Theatre had taken over ownership and management of the new studios. John Corfield eventually resigned from the board of Pinewood Film Studios and Lady Yule sold her shares to J. Arthur Rank. By the 1940’s he owned four other studios, Denham, Elstree, Ealing and Islington.  He formed the Rank Organisation which bought the Odeon cinema chain in 1938, the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation in 1941, which owned 251 cinemas, and the Lime Grove Studios. It also acquired the Paramount cinema chain, and by 1942, it owned a total of 619 cinemas.

In 1945 he founded The Charm School, acting school, who’s pupils included Donald Sinden, Dirk Bogarde, Diana Dors and Christopher Lee. In the 1950s the studio produced Norman Wisdom comedies, Doctor…films and, later the ‘Carry On’ films. Other major films including, Carve Her Name with Pride and Sapphire and Victim were also produce plus the coverage of the coronation of Elizabeth II. It became one of the world’s biggest film companies, and began to diversify into other interests like Rank Xerox, Southern Television, and Top Rank records which was later taken over by EMI.

Much of the diversification came under the management of Sir John Davis, who led the company up to 1995. In 1996 the venerable company was absorbed by The Rank Group Plc. Now completely out of the motion picture business, The Rank Group continues today as a leading European gaming business.


Sir James Reckitt

Clive Sullivan

William Wilberforce

William De la Pole

Thomas Ferens