Beryl Cook O.B.E - UK

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Although Beryl Cook was born in Surrey, she spent most of her adult life in Devon and Cornwall and much of the artwork for which she is so famous was inspired by her life there, so we think she deserves of a mention on this website.

Born in September 1926, Beryl was one of four sisters. She left school at the age of 14 and began working in a variety of jobs, but her love of painting was still some way off developing. She worked as a showgirl in London and did a brief stint in the fashion industry, the influence of which would later become apparent in her paintings.Continue reading

Charles BCharles Babbage

You may not have heard of Charles Babbage before, but you have him to thank, in part, for the fact that you’re able to read this article on a computerised device today.

Although there is some dispute over his place and date of birth (it is thought to have been either London or Teignmouth in 1791), Babbage spent much of his childhood in his family home in Teignmouth and it is this, plus his Devonian ancestry, which lands him a place in our list of remarkable people of Devon and Cornwall.


Charles Babbage had a somewhat turbulent early education – being moved between various schools, academies, and private tutors – but it culminated in him being accepted to Cambridge University to study mathematics. During his time there he lived by the motto ‘Let’s leave this world a wiser one than we found it.’ It’s fair to say he managed to do that!Continue reading

You may not have heard of him before, but we have a lot to thank Cornish-born Richard Trevithick for when it comes to steam engines, steam boilers, and central heating systems. He even has his own commemorative day celebrated in April each year.

The Cornish boiler

Toward the end of his career Trevithick expanded his horizons, working on many types of engineering projects. The most notable of these was perhaps the Cornish boiler, designed in 1812, which used horizontal cylindrical boilers in a design that significantly improved efficiency.

He developed new designs, including ship containers, a steamboat propeller, and a central heating system for homes. His work contributed towards many of the products we use today, including the heating systems installed by the plumbers Plymouth company. Despite this, he received very little recognition during his lifetime and died penniless in 1833.Continue reading

We start with perhaps one of the best known names to come out of Devon and Cornwall: Sir Francis Drake.Sir_Francis_Drake_by_Jodocus_Hondius 2


Drake is most famous for his explorations at sea, although he made plenty of contributions to his home county of Devon, too.  But despite all his good work, some regard him as more of a villain than a hero – after all, there has to be a reason why he became known as the “Queen’s Pirate”.

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