Famous People from Newton Abbot

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Dr. Ivy Williams (7 September 1877 – 18 February 1966), was the first woman to be called to the English Bar.
She was born in Newton Abbot and educated privately. By 1903 she had completed all her law examinations, but was prevented by the prevailing regulations concerning the qualification of women at Oxford from matriculating or receiving her  BA MA  and BCL until the regulations were reformed in 1920. In 1921 she was called to the bar at the inner Temple and thus became the first woman barrister in England.
In 1923 she became the first woman to be awarded the degree of DCL (Doctor of Civil Law in Oxford for her published work, The Sources of Law in the Swiss Civil Code. In 1956 she was elected an Honorary Fellow of St Anne`s College Oxford.

Sergio Lorenzo “Serge” Pizzorno is a British guitarist and songwriter, best known for his work with the indie rock band Kasabian was Born 15 December 1980 in Newton Abbot.

David Martin Vine (3 January 1935 – 11 January 2009) was a British television sports presenter. He presented a wide variety of shows from the 1960s onwards.  David was born in Newton Abbot.


Muse are a rock band from Teignmouth. Since their inception in 1994, the band has been composed of Matthew Bellamy, lead vocals, guitar and piano, Christopher Wolstenholme, bass guitar, backing vocals ,keyboards, and Dominic Howard drums and percussion.
Muse are known for their energetic and extravagant live performances and their fusion of many music genres, included progressive rock, classical music, heavy metal and electronica.

The members of Muse played in separate bands in the early 1990s, but soon the formation of Muse began when Bellamy successfully auditioned for the part of guitarist in Dominic Howard’s band. They asked Chris Wolstenholme, who played drums at the time, to learn to play bass guitar for the band. Wolstenholme agreed and took up lessons.

Matt and Chris’ first band was called Gothic Plague. After Gothic Plague came Fixed Penalty, and after Rocket Baby Dolls. In 1994 the band used the name Rocket Baby Dolls] with a goth/glam image to compete in a local battle of the bands. The band won the contest, smashing their equipment in the process. “It was supposed to be a protest, a statement,” Bellamy said, “so, when we actually won, it was a real shock, a massive shock. After that, we started taking ourselves seriously.” Shortly after the contest, the three decided to forget university, quit their jobs, change the band name to Muse, and move away from Teignmouth. They chose the name “Muse” because someone in Teignmouth suggested that the reason for a lot of the populace becoming members of bands was due to a muse hovering over the town. Also, because it was short and the members felt it looked good on a poster.

After a few years building a fan base, Muse played their first gigs in London and Manchester. The band had a significant meeting with Dennis Smith, the owner of  Sawmills Studio situated in a converted water mill in Cornwall. He had seen the three boys grow up as he knew their parents and had a production company together with their manager to-be, Safta Jaffery

This meeting led to their first proper recordings and the release of the Muse EP on Sawmills’ in-house Dangerous label. Their second EP, the Muscle Museum EP, reached number 3 in the indie singles chart and attracted the attention of British radio broadcaster  Steve Lamacq as well as the weekly British music publication  NME.  Dennis Smith introduced the band to Safta Jaffery with whom he had recently started the record label Taste Media. Muse signed with Smith and Jaffery and recorded their first three albums,  Showbiz, Origin of Symmetry and Absolution, with Taste Media.

Despite the success of their second EP, British record companies were reluctant to sign Muse. It was after a trip to New York’s CMJ Festival that an American record label flew them to Los Angeles to showcase. Nanci Walker, then Sr. Director of A&R at Columbia Records, flew Muse to the U. S. to showcase for Columbia Record’s then Senior Vice President of A&R, Tim Devine, as well as for American Recording’s Rick Rubin. It was during this trip, on 24 December 1998, that Muse signed a deal with Maverick Records. Upon their return from America, Taste Media arranged deals for Muse with various record labels in Europe and Australia, allowing them to maintain control over their career in individual countries.]

John Leckie was brought in to produce the band’s first record, Showbiz. The album showcased the band’s soft style, and the lyrics made reference to the difficulties they had encountered while trying to establish themselves in Teignmouth.

Muse have cited Queen as an influence, Queen guitarist Brain May has praised Muse’s work, calling the band “extraordinary musicians” who “let their madness show through, always a good thing in an artist.” In particular, Dominic Howard noted the influence of Queen on “United States of Eurasia.”

On the band’s association with progressive rock, Dominic Howard has said: “I associate it with 10-minute guitar solos, but I guess we kind of come into the category. A lot of bands are quite ambitious with their music, mixing lots of different styles and when I see that I think it’s great. I’ve noticed that kind of thing becoming a bit more mainstream.”

The Devon trio played two shows on Friday September 4th and Saturday September 5th in their home town of Teignmouth in 2009. 
In January 2010, Muse played the Big Day Out festival at its various venues in Australia and New Zealand starting with Auckland and eventually ending in Perth.

Muse will be headlining the Glastonbury Festival 2010 along with Stevie Wonder. The group will also headline the 2010 Hovefestivalen as well as in the Park 2010 and Oxegen alongside Eminem and Kasabian. On 20 April 2010, the band announced fourteen dates for a North American tour, which will be held between September and November 2010. On 7th May 2010, it was announced that Muse will release the lead single for the third film of The Twilight Saga, Eclipse. “Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)” will be released on May 17th 2010.

Leonard John Coldwell

Born January 10, 1933, In Newton Abbot, Devon, he died on the 6th August 1996, in Teignmouth, Devon.
He was an English cricketer, who played in 7  Tests from 1962 to 1964.

Len Coldwell was a right-arm fast-medium bowler who was, for a few years in the early to mid-1960s, half of the most feared new-ball partnership in English  county cricket. With his bowling partner, Jack Flavell, Coldwell was the attacking force behind the unprecedented success of Worcestershire, which brought the county its first successes in the County Championship in 1964 and 1965.
In fact, Coldwell’s own peak years were a little before that: in 1961, he took 140 wickets and finished sixth in the national averages; the following year, his best, he took 152 wickets and was fourth.
Coldwell played Minor Counties cricket before being signed by Worcestershire in 1955, Coldwell bowled mainly in-swingers and varied both pace and line depending on the stance of the batsman. Inclined to be expensive in his early years, and one of a pack of medium to fast-medium bowlers competing to be Flavell’s new-ball partner at Worcester, he came to the fore in 1960 when his rivals, Aldridge and Pearson, were accused of having suspect bowling actions. In 1961, Flavell and Coldwell bowled Worcestershire to fourth in the Championship, and Flavell was picked for Tests; in 1962, when Flavell was injured for part of the season, Coldwell bowled more than 1,100 overs in the season and was himself picked for two Tests, and the county finished second, its highest ever position at that time.

In his first Test match against Pakistan at Lords, Coldwell took the wicket of Imtiaz Ahmed in his first over and finished with three wickets for 25 runs in the first innings, following that up with six for 85 in the second innings. Despite this, he was replaced by Brian Statham for the next Test, and not recalled until the last game of the five-match series, where he took four further wickets. His 13 wickets at an average of under 18 runs per wicket put him at the head of England`s bowling averages for the season.
He toured Australia and New zealand in 1962-63, but was less successful there, playing in three Tests but taking only five wickets. And in 1963, he was injured early in the season, and took only 21 wickets. Returned to fitness in 1964, Coldwell took 98 wickets at 15.48 each and was second in the national averages as Worcestershire won the Championship for the first time; he also played in the first two Tests against Australia playing alongside Flavell in a Test match for the only time in the first match at Trent Bridge He took only four wickets, however, and was dropped. He never played Test cricket again.

Coldwell was an important part of the Worcestershire side that retained the Championship in 1965. But he was increasingly affected by hip and knee injuries and his wicket tally declined across the later 1960s, and he retired during the 1969 season, returning to Devon.
Coldwell was not much of a batsman: in 15 years of first-class cricket he never reached 40 runs in an innings.

William Knox D`Arcy

He was one of the principal founders of the oil and petrochemical industry in Persia (Iran).
He was born in Newton Abbot, Devon. He was the son of a solicitor.

He attended Westminster School until 1866,  when the family emigrated to Australia where they settled in Rockhampton Queensland. D’Arcy continued his studies and chose to follow law, later joining his father’s business. He did well and began to speculate, initially in land.

He married on 23rd October 1872 to Elena Birkbeck, of Rockhampton. Elena was born in Mexico in 1840, the only daughter of Damiana de Barre Valdez and Samual Birkbeck. Samual was a mining engineer from Illinois in the United States. He was descended from the English Birkbecks, a Quaker family with an interest in education. Samual met his wife, Damiana de Barre Valdez, whilst working in  Mexico, managing a silver mine.

In 1882 he became a partner, with  Walter Russell Hall and Thomas Skarratt Hall, in a syndicate with Thomas, Frederick and Edwin Morgan when they opened a mine on Ironstone Mountain (later renamed  Mount Morgan ), 24 miles (39 km) south of Rockhampton. There was a significant deposit at Mt Morgan. In October 1886, the syndicate became the Mount Morgan Gold Mining Company, with D’Arcy a director and the largest shareholder. He held 125,000 shares in his own name and 233,000 in trust. At one stage the shares reached£17/1s/- each, making them worth more than £6 million (an amount equivalent to £496 million in present day terms).

In 1889, with a substantial fortune, he and his family moved to England. He bought the Stanmore Hall mansion, Bylaugh Park and a house on Grosvenor Square. His wife Elena died in 1897 and in 1899 he married Nina Boucicault, a prominent actress, who helped him entertain on a lavish scale. He had acquired a strong interest in horse-racing while in Australia, and maintained a private box at Epsom racecourse.

In 1900 he agreed to fund a search for oil and minerals in Persia headed by Wolff, Kitabgi and Cotte. Negotiations with the Mozaffar al-Din Shah Qajar began in 1901 and with the offer of £20,000 for a sixty year concession to explore for oil was secured in May covering 480,000 square miles (1,200,000 km2). The concession stipulated that William D’Arcy would have the oil rights to the entire country except for five provinces in Northern Iran. In exchange the Iranian government was given 16% of the oil company’s annual profits, an agreement that would haunt the Iranians up until the late 20th century. After the D’Arcy concession the British became much more concerned with the stability of Iran because of their reliance on the country’s vast oil reserves.
A drilling team under George B. Reynolds was sent to Persia and began to search. In 1903 a company was formed and D’Arcy had to spend over £500,000 to cover the costs. False hopes were raised in 1904 and D’Arcy was forced to find further financial support, with the Burmah Oil Company Ltd. agreeing to put up to £100,000 into the venture in return for much of the stock.
Drilling in southern Persia at Shardin continued until 1907 when the search was switched to Masjed Soleyman (Masjid-I-Sulaiman in Persia in a place named “Maidan-i-Naftun”. Drilling began at one site in January 1908 and at another nearby in March. By April with no success the venture was close to collapse and D’Arcy almost bankrupt, but on May 16 there were encouraging signs and on May 26 at 1,180 feet (360 m) they struck oil.

In April 1909 D’Arcy was made a director of the newly founded Anglo-Persian Oil Company, (APOC) which would later become British Petroleum. By 1911 APOC had run a pipeline from the find to a refinery at Abadan. In 1912 the Mount Morgan company was listed in London and D’Arcy was made chairman of that board.
The financial support given by Burmah Oil and the British Admiralty meant that D’Arcy could no longer put his name to the new company despite the best efforts of his wife, and ended up just a shareholder to the company.

Later in life he lived in Stanmore Hall, Middlesex. He com
missioned from William Morris and  Edward Burne–Jones suite of tapestries, `The Quest of the Holy Grail` (now dispersed).
He died on May 1, 1917.

Frank Matcham


Born 22 November 1854, Newton Abbot, Devon, Died 17 May 1920, Southend- on –Sea, Essex. He is buried in Highgate cemetery.

Matcham was a famous English theatrical architect.

Son of a brewery clerk, Frank was raised in Toquay, where he attended Babbacombe school. In 1868, he was apprenticed to a local surveyor and architect, George Bridgeman. He moved to London and joined the architectural practice of Jethro Robinson, consulting theatre architect to the Lord Chamberlain`s  office. In 1877 Matcham married Robinson’s youngest daughter, Effie, and only a year later his father-in-law died and he found himself in charge of the practice, at the age of 24. Frank Matcham received no formal training as an architect, but learnt the practicalities on the job.

His first commission was to complete the designs of the Elephant and Castle theatre (opened June 1879).

Matcham and two architects he helped to train,  Bertie Crewe and W G R Sprague,  were together responsible for the majority – certainly more than 200 – of the theatres and variety palaces of the great building boom which took place in Britain between about 1890 and 1915, peaking at the turn of the century.

Matcham himself designed, designed Cheltenham Everyman Theatre (1891) the Blackpool Grand Theatre and the Wakefield Theatre Royal and Opera House 1894 The Buxton Opera House and the Royal Hall (Kursaal), Harrogate in 1903, and the Liverpool Olympia (1905). He also designed several famous London Theatres, the Hackney Empire, (1901), the London Coliseum (1904), the London Palladium (1910), the Victoria Palace (1911). Matcham also rebuilt the Alhambra Theatre (1912) in Leicester Square.

Matcham is remembered in Northern Ireland for his design of the Grand Opera House (opened December 1895) on Great Victoria Street, Belfast. In Douglas on the Isle of Man he designed the Gaiety Theatre, which survives to this day.

Matcham also designed theatres in Aberdeen in Scotland, there was His Majesty`s Theatre, built in 1904 to replace the Tivoli Theatre. The Tivoli was originally known as Her Majesty’s Theatre, opened in 1872 to the designs of C.J. Phipps, and was subject to alterations by Matcham in 1897, followed by a complete interior rebuild by him in 1909. Both theatres still survive in Aberdeen, although the Tivoli is disused after a spell as a bingo hall. In Edinburgh he designed the Empire Palace Theatre, opened in 1892, and he also rebuilt it after a fire in 1911. It was subsequently demolished and rebuilt in 1927/8, this time to the designs of Sunderland architects Milburn and Milburn. The theatre still stands today, having been refurbished, after a time as a bingo hall, as the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, it now incorporates a modern glass facade built in 1994. Matcham also designed the Kings Theatre, Glasgow on Bath Street in 1904; this theatre is still in use. In Portsmouth the Kings Theatre and The New Theatre Royal are still active.

One unusual commission, built around 1900, is the three blocks in  Briggate, Leeds, that are today known as the Victoria Quarter. Matcham’s Empire Palace Theatre, which was the centre-piece of the design, was demolished in the 1960s and replaced with a Harvey Nichols store, but his surviving exteriors and the impressive County Arcade have been refurbished to a high standard.
Frank Matcham pioneered the use of cantilevered steel in his designs, and took out patents to protect his work. This allowed balconies to be built out into the theatre without the use of pillars supporting each tier, these had characterised the work of the previous generation of theatre architects. Without pillars, there were improved sight lines and, popular with theatre owners, an increased audience capacity.

On 22 November 2007, Matcham was commemorated by actors Timothy West and Prunella Scales unveiling a blue plaque at the site of his London home, 10 Haslemere Road, Hornsey. English Heritage, who award the plaques, noted “His theatres are particularly notable for their exuberant interiors – he was quite prepared to mix architectural styles, from Tudor strapwork to rococo panels, military insignia to classical statuary. They also set new standards in providing good sightlines and high safety standards, with the inclusion of features such as fireproof construction, adequate emergency lighting and ready means of exit. Matcham’s work proved extremely popular with the public and its opulence and flair continues to enthral audiences today.