Local People, National Heroes
Looking for inspirational local people that have become national heroes? Here are just a few examples.
Originally introduced in 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of valour during the Crimean War, the Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour ‘in the face of the enemy’ to members of the armed forces of the Commonwealth and former territories of the British Empire. During the First World War 627 individuals received the Victoria Cross. Four of these men were from Plymouth and Devonport.
Viscountess Nancy Astor (1879 to 1964) was the first female MP to ever take a seat in the House of Commons in 1919. She represented the Plymouth ward of Sutton for 25 years and was also Lady Mayoress during the Blitz. Originally hailing from Virginia, USA she was a woman of contrasts: liked and disliked; fiercely independent and outspoken yet reliant on her friendships and husband; wealthy yet generous; renowned for her garden and dinner parties yet a prohibitionist and a campaigner for social causes. As well as ensuring that Plymouth will forever play a part in British political history, she also left a legacy thanks to her and her husband’s interest in social issues and their generosity with their wealth.
Captain Robert Falcon Scott (‘Scott of the Antarctic’) was born and educated in Plymouth. In 1912 his Terra Nova Expedition team bravely walked across 800 miles of snow and ice to become the first Britons to ever reach the South Pole.
Charles Eastlake (1793 to 1865), painter, scholar and arts administrator, was born in Plympton and went on to become President of the Royal Academy and the first Director of the National Gallery, London.
Joshua Reynolds was born in the town of Plympton (now a suburb of the city of Plymouth), on 16 July 1723. He was the youngest of seven sons born to the Reverend Samuel Reynolds, a local Grammar School master, and his wife Theophilia. He went on to become one of the 18th century’s most well-known portrait painters and the founding President of the Royal Academy.
Plymouth’s city centre and a number of its suburbs were virtually destroyed by incendiary bombs during the 1941 Blitz of World War II. As a result of this, Professor Sir Patrick Abercrombie, a trained Architect and Town Planner, and James Paton-Watson, a Borough Engineer and Surveyor who became Plymouth’s City Engineer in 1936, created ‘The Plan for Plymouth’ – an ambitious scheme designed to raise Plymouth out of the rubble and turn it into a 21st century city.