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Past Celebrated Residents
Martin Ruane AKA Giant Haystakes (1946-1988)

One of the most recognised British grapplers ever, Giant Haystacks died on Sunday 29th November, 1998 after a 2-year battle with cancer. Born in Camberwell Green, London, he stood 6'11" tall and weighed well over 45-stone at his heaviest. Most remembered for his long-standing feud with Big Daddy, Haystacks was frequently watched by 10 million viewers on a Saturday afternoon, hauling his massive bulk into the ring and making very short work of his opponent.

Having started wrestling in 1967, he became a household name in the mid-70's when he was one of the biggest wrestlers in Europe. He would do his thinking during hours of driving - 120,000 miles a year was only average!

Among his friends was Sir Paul McCartney who asked Haystacks to be in his 1984 film, "Give My Regards To Broad Street" and would often go to wrestling shows with his son in Sussex when the big man was top of the bill.

In 1996, Haystacks appeared in the U.S.A under the W.C.W banner as "The Loch Ness Monster", fighting many of America's top wrestlers.

As a youngster, Haystacks' parents, who came from Co. Mayo, Ireland, wanted him to be a musician and he started to learn the piano, but with his huge hands and fingers it soon became a futile task! Over his years of wrestling, he wrestled all over the world, most notably in the German tournaments and East Africa. He was actually made an honourary citizen of Zimbabwe.

After a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Frank Sinatra claimed that he had seen the Giant on television that afternoon and stated that he thought that British wrestlers were the best in the world.

Although one of the toughest, roughest opponents of all time on the British wrestling circuit, Giant Haystacks will be sorely missed by grapple fans not only up and down the British Isles, but all over the world.


Taken from "Obsessed with Wrestling"

John Ruskin (1819-1900)

"John Ruskin, the greatest Victorian bar Victoria, was an artist, scientist, poet, environmentalist, philosopher, and, importantly here, the pre-eminent art critic of his time. He provided the impetus that gained respectability for the Pre-Raphaelites. Ruskin's letter to The Times in 1851, supporting the much-derided Pre-Raphaelites for their naturalism and truth to nature, marked a turning point in their perception by the public. In a second letter, he wrote that the Pre-Raphaelites might "lay the foundation of a school of art nobler than the world has seen for 300 years."

When, after this, Ruskin met the Pre-Raphaelites, he encouraged them in their ideals, acting as tutor, mentor, and generous supporter to Rossetti, Millais and Holman Hunt, as well as later artists in a similar spirit such as John Brett and John William Inchbold. He was a long-time friend of the children's illustrator Kate Greenaway, and also of the bird-painter H. S. Marks.

Ruskin taught Pre-Raphaelite style drawing at the Working Men's College in London for some years, enlisting Rossetti to teach figure and watercolour painting, and afterwards Ford Madox Brown to fill the same position. Afterwards, he left London, becoming Slade Professor of Art at Oxford (where there is an art college named after him) and then removing to the Lake District where he helped to start the Environmental Movement."

Bob Speal

Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914)

Was the son of a shopkeeper, was born in Camberwell Grove in 1836. After being educated at University College School he became a successful businessman in Birmingham. A member of the Liberal Party he became involved in local politics and in 1868 was elected as a town councillor. Chamberlain became mayor in 1873 and for the next three years introduced a series of social reforms. The council's acquisition of land and public utilities and the pioneering slum-clearance schemes, made Chamberlain a national political figure.

Chamberlain was extremely popular in Birmingham, and was elected unopposed in a parliamentary election held in 1876. Chamberlain soon made his mark in the House of Commons and after the 1880 General Election, William Gladstone appointed Chamberlain as President of the Board of Trade.

In 1885 General Election Chamberlain was seen as the leader of the Radicals with his calls for land reform, housing reform and higher taxes on the rich. However, he was also a strong supporter of Imperialism, and resigned from Gladstone's cabinet over the issue of Irish Home Rule. This action helped to bring down the Liberal government. Chamberlain now became leader of the Liberal Unionists and in 1886 he formed an alliance with the Conservative Party. As a result, Marquess of Salisbury, gave him the post of Colonial Secretary in his government. Chamberlain was therefore primarily responsible for British policy during the Boer War.

In September 1903, Joseph Chamberlain resigned from office so that he would be free to advocate his scheme of tariff reform. Chamberlain wanted to transform the British Empire into a united trading block. According to Chamberlain, preferential treatment should be given to colonial imports and British companies producing goods for the home market should be given protection from cheap foreign goods. The issue split the Conservative Party and in the 1906 General Election the Liberal Party, who supported free trade, had a landslide victory.

Chamberlain was struck down by a stroke in 1906 and took no further part in politics. Joseph Chamberlain, whose son Neville Chamberlain also became a leading figure in politics, died in 1914.

Giant Haystakes in the ring

Giant Haystakes in the ring

John Ruskin

John Ruskin

Joe Chamberline

Joe Chamberline