1. George Garrett (4th July 1852- 26th February 1902)

George Garrett

George Garrett was born on 4th July 1852 in Moss Side and was an inventor who pioneered submarine design. George was educated at Manchester Grammar School before studying Chemistry and General Science at Owens College. He was appointed assistant master at the Manchester Mechanics’ Institute and subsequently obtained a BA degree.

In 1878, he built a 14-foot long hand-cranked submarine of about 4.5 tons, which he named the Resurgam. This was followed by the second Resurgam of 1879 which was 45 feet  long and was powered by steam with the furnace and chimney being shut off before diving. The design attracted much interested and the Swedish industrialist Thorsten Nordenfelt agreed to finance him. Together, they built a submarine for Greece, and two for Turkey. As a result of this George was commissioned as a Commander in the Imperial Ottoman Navy for carrying out trials in these submarines. Eventually George emigrated to the United States where he became a U.S. citizen and died in New York City in 1902.

2. Sir Joseph John “J. J.” Thomson (18th December 1856- 30th August 1940)

SIr Joseph Thomson

Sir Joseph John Thomson was born in Cheetham Hill on 18th December 18 1856 and was the man who discovered electrons. He grew up in Manchester and demonstrated great talent and interest in science. In 1870 he enrolled at Owens College (predecessor of the University of Manchester) where he completed his studies before entering Trinity College, Cambridge in 1876 and in 1884 he became the Cavendish Professor of physics at the university. Amongst the students he taught was Ernest Rutherford who later succeeded Thomson in the post.

In 1906 he was awarded a Nobel Prize “in recognition of the great merits of his theoretical and experimental investigations on the conduction of electricity by gases.” He was knighted in 1908 and appointed to the Order of Merit in 1912. Sir Joseph had a big impact on the scientific understanding we have today, he was a highly gifted teacher with seven of his research assistants and his son going on to also win  Nobel Prizes in physics. He died on 30th August 1940 and was buried in Westminster Abbey, close to Sir Isaac Newton.

3. Emmeline Pankhurst (15th July 1858- 14th June 1928)

Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst was born on 15th July 1858 in Moss Side. She is world famous and remembered as a political activist and the leader of the British suffragette movement which helped women win the right to vote. In 1999 Time magazine named Pankhurst as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century. She was born to a politically aware family, her grandmother worked with the Anti-Corn Law League and her grandfather was present at the Peterloo Massacre. As Emmeline grew into an adult she felt it was an injustice that women didn’t have the full rights of British citizenship and decided to make a stand. In 1903 she established the Women’s Social and Political Union from her home at 62 Nelson Street, Manchester.

Emmeline served time in jail and was once arrested outside Buckingham Palace while trying to present a petition to George V. When in prison Emmeline often went on hunger strike. She became a pivotal figure of the movement touring the world and giving speeches. She died in 1928, one month before the The Representation of the People Act 1928 came into play which extended the voting franchise to all women over the age of 21.

4. Sir Arthur Harden (12th October 1865- 17th June 1940)

Arthur Harden

Arthur Harden was born on 12th October 1865 in Manchester and won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1929 with Hans Karl August Simon von Euler-Chelpin for their investigations into the fermentation of sugar and fermentative enzymes. He received his education at Owens College from 1882 to 1885. In 1886 Harden was awarded the Dalton Scholarship in Chemistry and spent a year working in Erlangen. He returned to Manchester as lecturer and demonstrator, and remained there until 1897 when he was appointed chemist to the newly founded British Institute of Preventive Medicine, which later became the Lister Institute. Arthur Harden was knighted in 1926 and he died on 17th June 1940.

5. Sir John Alcock (5th November 1892- 18th December 1919)

John Alcock

John Alcock was born on 5th November 1892 in Stretford and along with with navigator Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown, piloted the first non-stop transatlantic flight from St. John’s in Newfoundland to Clifden in Ireland.

He first became interested in flying at the age of 17. His first job was at the Empress Motor Works in Manchester. Eventually he met a man called Maurice Ducrocq who took John on as a mechanic at the Brooklands aerodrome in Surrey where John learned to fly at Maurice’s flying school, gaining a pilot’s licence in November 1912. Then came World War I and John joined the Royal Naval Air Service. On 30 September 1917 John attacked three enemy aircraft, forcing two to crash into the sea. For this action he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. On a separate mission he was forced to make a crash landing in the sea where he was then captured by Turkish forces and remained a prisoner of war until the end of the war. He retired from the air force in March 1919.

On 14th June 1919 he was co-piloted the first plane to make a non-stop transatlantic flight. The journey took 16 hours and 12 minutes and covered a distance of 1,980 miles. The flight was made in a modified Vickers Vimy bomber winning them a £10,000 prize offered by the Daily Mail for the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic. A few days later both pilots were honoured with a reception at Windsor Castle during which King George V knighted them. John Alcock died on 18th December 1919,when the plane he was flying at a Paris exhibition crashed due to fog, he was 27 years old.

6. Sunny Lowry (2nd January 1911- 21st February 2008)

Sunny Lowry

Ethel “Sunny” Lowry MBE  was born on the 2nd January 1911 in Longsight and was the first British woman to swim the English Channel. She was a student at Manchester High School for Girls and was a keen swimmer from a young age. She joined the Victoria Ladies Swimming Club of Victoria Baths in Longsight and developed a passion for long distance swimming.

She had two unsuccessful attempts of swimming the channel on 19th August 1932 and 27th July 1933 where she failed to reach France. She was not deterred though and on 28th August 1933 aged 22 she successfully swam from Cap Gris Nezin France to St Margarets Bay, Dover in a swim that took her 15 hours 41 minutes. She spent the remainder of her active working life as a swimming teacher and she died at the age of 97 on 21 February 2008 at Warrington Hospital.


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