When you think of names linked to Littlehampton, Anita Roddick springs to mind. But how about Paul O’Grady and Lord Byron?
The Littlehampton History Research Group has published a book shedding light on the topic, which came about after members Peter Walton and David Twinn were researching in Littlehampton Museum for the town council’s 1918 commemorative booklet.
David said: “We kept coming across photos of well-known people and Peter had the idea of doing the book.”
Peter added: “Researching the book has been fascinating. There is so much more to Littlehampton than meets the eye.”
Famous Faces of Littlehampton includes a biography of Dame Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, and Jeffrey Quill, born in 1913 in South Terrace, Littlehampton, who helped develop the Spitfire aircraft.
Other residents of the town that feature include Trevor Byfield, a character actor who lived in Littlehampton from 2002 to 2017, and Kitty O’Shea, whose affair with Irish politician Charles Stewart caused a national scandal in the 19th century. She died in East Ham Road, Littlehampton, in 1921.
The historical connections go back further, to General Henry Shrapnel, inventor of the shrapnel artillery shell who lived in the Norfolk Hotel in Surrey Street in the late 1700s, and even to Empress Maude, granddaughter of William the Conqueror, who landed with a small army of Norman knights in 1139 to fight for her right to be crowned Queen of England.
Lord Byron spent some of 1806 at the Dolphin Inn in Littlehampton High Street, and Paul O’Grady moved to the town aged 21 to pursue a doomed romance, selling ice creams on the beach before moving to London and describing the town as ‘a graveyard in the sun’.
To buy the book, visit Littlehampton Museum.