09 July 2020
Find out whether your street or locality has connections with a well-known person from years gone by.
Even the most seemingly ordinary street may have links to a famous person, after all even well-known people have to have lived somewhere! Read on for our top tips on creating a mini research project to find and study your area’s links to a well-known person.
1. Clues from street names
Street names can point you in the direction of a well-known person’s connection to an area. Perhaps a road near you is named after an inventor, politician or preacher who lived or worked in the locality. Or maybe a building or street has been named after someone notable who was born or lived in your region.
The tips below give more guidance on exploring street history and you can find out more about researching people and their street stories here.
2. Local and national newspapers
If your research or local knowledge suggests links to someone well-known, use local and national newspapers – either online or at a library – to find out more. Perhaps your person visited the town to open a civic building, present an award or as part of a speaking tour. Or maybe he or she returned to the town of their birth after achieving great things in the wider world.
See our guide on newspapers and local history here.
3. Plaques and statues
One of the most obvious clues to your famous person is a plaque on a building or a statue commemorating someone with links to the area. However, these are not always found in places you would expect – statues and plaques might be sited in an area of town that is away from the current centre.
4. Local history societies and libraries
As always with local history, your local library and nearest heritage society will have a wealth of information that might be difficult to find elsewhere. Try back issues of the local history society’s journal or magazine for articles on local notables and browse the library shelves for books and pamphlets on people whose links with the area might have otherwise been forgotten.
5. Old photos
If your local history library has a collection of photos these can be a great place to look for your town’s connections to someone notable. Whether it’s a newspaper picture of someone opening the town hall or crowds gathering to hear a speech by a rousing preacher, the event might just have been captured for posterity.
6. Old buildings and industries
Delve into the history of your town’s older buildings and try to find out when they were built and whether an opening ceremony was held; civic officials, particularly in the Victorian era, often invited local well-known sons (and less often sadly, daughters) to open a new building or facility.
Consider your town’s former trades and industries. Could they be connected to someone well-known in that field? For example, Sir Richard Arkwright has a local heritage trail in his birth town Preston and there are numerous similar trails around the country.
7. Who’s buried where?
Consider the various burial grounds in your local area – both municipal and religious. Are any of the burial monuments particularly notable or unusual? This could provide a clue to someone well-known who ended their days in your town or was buried in the town of their birth after living elsewhere.
Online, there are lots of websites listing burials for particular areas and sites such as DeceasedOnline and FindAGrave have search facilities for pinpointing particular names, as well as lists of notable people such as Famous Graves in England here.