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Famous People from the Solent

Fizzing with history and natural beauty, it’s no surprise that the Solent has inspired many famous people to achieve wonderful feats in their field. The regulat timetable of Solent events mean the area is a stimulating place to live, and for centuries families have been drawn to the area.

From naval pioneers, architectural firsts, to artists of all types, from writers, actors to singers - the area has an enviable roll call of famous people whose roots or strong associations lay in and around this famed stretch of water between England’s Hampshire south coast and the Isle of Wight.

Literary luminaries

Lewis Carroll – The famous author lived at the Isle of Wight’s seaside Sandown while working on his iconic children’s novel Alice in Wonderland published in 1865.

Charles Dickens – Few know that this great Victorian author was born in 1812 in the naval city of Portsmouth, on the northern shores of The Solent.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Famous for later creating the legendary Sherlock Holmes, Doyle actually began his working life as a doctor in Portsmouth where he arrived in 1882. He is said to have turned to writing fiction while waiting for patients in his unsuccessful medical practice.

Naval and architectural heroes

Samuel Bentham – A naval architect, inspector and engineer Bentham made a substantial contribution to development of the Portsmouth Dockyard in the 1790s. His older brother was the famous philosopher Jeremy Bentham.

Marc Isambard Brunel – An engineer himself, Marc Brunel was father of the more prolific engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who was born in Portsmouth. In the 1790s Marc Brunel invented a machine that produced pulley blocks at Portsmouth Dockyard.

Royal connections

King Henry VII – The Tudor King built Europe’s first - and the world’s oldest surviving - dry dock in Portsmouth in 1495 thereby strengthening the Navy and Britain’s trading prospects.

King Henry VIII – Henry VIII established a permanent navy at Portsmouth from 1509 and fortified The Solent going on to build the castles at Southsea, Sandown, Yarmouth, Netley and St. Andrew’s. The King successfully repulsed a French attack in the 1545 Battle of the Solent however lost the Mary Rose ship in the battle.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert – The Queen so fell in love with the area that she had her holiday residence, Osborne House, built on the Isle of Wight in the 1840s. The extensive views of the Solent from the grand mansion were said to remind her beloved Prince Albert of the Bay of Naples.

Comedians

Peter Sellers – the late actor, comedian, singer and stalwart of the Goon Show, was born in Portsmouth in 1925. He made his stage debut at the Kings Theatre in Southsea, when he was two weeks old.

Benny Hill – Best remembered for his television programme The Benny Hill Show, the cheeky comedian was born in Southampton in 1924.

Present day celebrities

Chris Packham – the wildlife presenter, naturalist and nature photographer was born in Southampton in 1961 going on to study at the University of Southampton, where he received Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology.

Craig David – an RnB singer, songwriter, DJ and record producer who rose to fame in the late 1990s with hits such as ‘Fill Me In’. By the early 2000s he was one of the biggest names in UK music.  David was born in 1981 in the Holyrood housing estate in central Southampton. An avid supporter of the Southampton football team, in 2008 he received an honorary degree from Southampton Solent University for his contribution to the music industry.

Charlie Dimmock – a gardening expert and television presenter, Dimmock was born in Southampton in 1966 and rose to prominence when she became one of the team on Ground Force , a BBC gardening makeover programme, which aired from 1997 until 2005.

Jeremy Irons – Acclaimed for his prolific film, theatre and television acting work, Irons was born in Cowes in 1948 and raised in St Helens, both on the Isle of Wight. He is a keen sailor, who has been successful in yacht races around the island. In 2008, Irons was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Southampton Solent University when he said “Whenever I hear the word 'Solent' it warms my heart.”

As a Solent yacht charters business we are proud of the many talented and pioneering sons and daughters of our area. We are confident the next generation of local heroes and heroines will be making their mark soon.

Two at helm with stormy weather Sailing across English Channel

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