Harborne: Famous People

These "Alumni" all were either born in Harborne or have had significant attachment to Harborne during their lifetimes.

Edward Augustus Freeman - Historian b.1823 - d.1892

One of the most distinguished of recent English historians, he was born in Harborne.

Educated at Oxford, where he was a Fellow of Trinity College, and later Regius Professor of Modern History. His earlier writings show great interest in architecture, and it was one of his distinctions to be the first historian to make extensive use in his subject of the evidences and illustrations supplied by the study of that art. His most famous and most elaborate work was his "History of the Norman Conquest" (1867-79), a monument which is likely long to remain the great authority on its period.

David Cox - Romanticism Painter b. 29 April 1783 d. 7 June 1859

David Cox, the son of a blacksmith, was born at Deritend, Birmingham but painted in Harborne.

After taking drawing lessons from Joseph Barber (1757-1811) in Birmingham, Cox worked briefly as an apprentice to a painter of lockets and snuff-boxes named Fieldler. This was followed about 1800 by a longer period painting scenery for the New Theatre, Birmingham.

On the promise of similar employment at Astley's Amphitheatre in Lambeth, Cox travelled to London in 1804, but when this came to nothing he decided to make his name as a watercolour painter. He began exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1805 and from 1809 until its demise in 1812 with the Associated Artists in Water-Colours, of which he became both member and president in 1810.

He was elected an Associate of the Society of Painters in Water-Colours in 1812 and within a month had become a full member. He remained a loyal supporter of the Society and a regular contributor to its exhibitions for the rest of his life.

In 1841 Cox returned to Birmingham where he lived, in Greenfield Road, Harborne for the rest of his life.

Francis William Aston - Chemist b.1877 d. 20 November 1945 in Cambridge

Awarded The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1922

Born in September 1877 in Harborne, the third of a family of seven children.

He was educated at Harborne Vicarage School and Malvern College where his interest in science was aroused. In 1894 he entered Mason College, Birmingham (later to become the University of Birmingham) where he studied chemistry under Frankland and Tilden, and Physics under Poynting. His winning of the Forster Scholarship in 1898 enabled him to work on the optical properties of tartaric acid derivatives; the results of this work were published in 1901.

In 1903 he obtained a scholarship to Birmingham University (as it had now become) to work on the properties of the Crookes Dark Space in discharge tubes. He had discovered the phenomenon which is known as the Aston Dark Space. At the end of 1909 he accepted the invitation of Sir J.J.Thomson to work as his assistant at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, on studies of positive rays.

During the Great War of 1914-1918 Aston worked at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, where he studied the effect of atmospheric conditions on aeroplane fabrics and dopes.

Aston was elected to a Fellowship at Trinity College in 1920, the same year he received the Mackenzie Davidson Medal of the Röntgen Society. In 1921 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society and was awarded the Society's Hughes Medal the following year, the same year that he received the Nobel Prize. The John Scott and the Paterno medals were given to him in 1923, the Royal medal in 1938, and he was Duddell medalist of the Physical Society in 1941.

W.H. Auden - English Poet b. 21 Feb. 1907 d. 29 Sept. 1973

Lived in house where Harborne Baths was - currently its a big hole in ground while the new Swimming Pool is built on the site.

Auden was born in York and spent his early childhood in Harborne where his father Dr George Auden was school medical officer for Birmingham and Professor of Public Health at the University of Birmingham. From the age of eight Auden was sent away to boarding schools, first in Surrey and later Norfolk, but he returned to Birmingham for the holidays.

Dennis  Amiss, MBE - Professional Cricket Player b. 7 Apr 1943

Dennis Leslie Amiss was born in Harborne.

After playing at Edgbaston at the age of 14 in a schools final, he joined Warwickshire County playing staff in 1960 to begin a career in which he played 658 first-class matches. He made slow progress in county cricket, and did not score a Championship hundred until his eighth season, by which time he had already played for England at The Oval in 1966 against West Indies.

For the next 21 years, he was one of the most prolific of post-war batsmen, with only Boycott and Graveney exceeding his aggregate of 43,423 runs, which makes him the 11th-heaviest runscorer in history.

Steve Gibbons - Rock Musician b. 13 July 1941 Harborne

Steve Gibbons has been in the music business for over four decades, surviving the ever-changing trends by being himself.

Steve Gibbons started his professional life as a plumber's apprentice in Harborne. He joined the Dominettes in 1960 to replace Colin Smith (Colin Smith later changed his name to Carl Barron and became the singer with The Cheetahs). An Elvis Presley fan, Gibbons' first performance with The Dominettes was at The California public house near Weoley Castle.

By 1963, The Dominettes were re-named The Uglys. Eventually, the Uglys were able to secure a recording contract with Pye Records and the first release from the group in 1965 was an original song entitled "Wake Up My Mind", composed by Burnet, Holden and Gibbons.

By the end of 1968, Gibbons was the only remaining original member of The Uglys. This final line-up also included Birmingham muscians Will Hammond, Dave Morgan, Keith Smart, and Richard Tandy.

In 1970 Steve emerged in the first of the "supergroups", Balls with Trevor Burton, Denny Laine and Mike Kelly, releasing the album "Short Stories".

After the break up of Balls, Steve returned to Birmingham from London to join Idle Race for three months in 1971, from which he formed his own group, The Steve Gibbons Band. His new band worked the pub and club circuits until 1975when they were spotted by Pete Townshend of The Who. This led to The Steve Gibbons Band joining The Who's management stable, recording their first Polydor album "Any Road Up" and touring with The Who in Britain, Europe and the USA.

Playing the concert arenas, they shared the stage with acts like Little Feat, Lynard Skynard, E.L.O., J. Geils and Nils Lofgren.

The English Top 10 hit "Tulane" led to three more albums with Polydor. This was Steve's second Top 10 hit, the first being his recording debut in 1965 with The Ugly's, whose "Wake Up My Mind" reached #1 in Australia.

In 1981, after a change in personnel, The Steve Gibbons Band recorded "Saints & Sinners" for RCA and later responded to an invitation from the German Democratic Republic to become the first western rock band to tour the major cities of East Germany.

Nine more albums were released in the 1980's and 90's and the touring continues.