John Gregson was one of the most popular British Actors of the 1950s. Many of his films saw him in uniform, roles including the Captain of HMS Exeter (The Battle of The River Plate), Pilot Officer ‘Septic’ Baird (Angels One Five), Lieutenant Alec Duffy (Above Us The Waves). He also appeared in some of the decade’s most successful light comedies, most notably The Lavender Hill Mob, Geneveive, The Captain’s Table and The Titfield Thunderbolt in which he appeared with another Liverpool star, the locomotive ‘Lion’ currently to be found in the Museum of Liverpool Life.
He was born Harold Thomas Gregson on 15th March 1919, the sixth child of Ernest and May Gregson (née Breen) and all sources cite his address then as 1 Crawford Avenue L18. This has proved a puzzle to me for some time as the ‘odd’ houses in Crawford Avenue today commence at No. 3 and there is no evidence of a No. 1. However the 1938 Kelly’s Directory clearly shows a No. 1. Any explanations of this would be most welcome.
The family lived on the Wirral for a couple of years before returning to Liverpool at 147 Mill Lane L15. Sadly when Harold/John was just 16 his father died of a heart attack and this led to the family moving to a larger house at 22 Limedale Road L18 so that his mother could take in lodgers. He was educated at Greenbank Primary School and St. Francis Xavier’s College. He left school at 16 and after jobs with the Automatic Telephone Company and Liverpool Corporation he was conscripted into the Royal Navy where he served on minesweepers. (He was torpedoed and injured and as he received a War Pension for his disablement in my previous existence I would have been responsible for the custody of his records.)
After leaving school he had dipped his toe into the waters of amateur dramatics with a group based at St. Anthony of Padua’s Church in Mossley Hill and returning to Liverpool at the end of the war he secured a place with the Liverpool Playhouse Repertory Company for a year. His move to Perth Rep after that was a fortuitous one as it was there that he met his wife. Her real name was Ida Reddish but her stage name was Thea Kronberg and after their marriage she used the name Thea Gregson.
His first major screen role was in Angels One Five in 1951 and he went on to appear in over 40 films. During the 1960’s his work shifted more towards TV, notably in the police drama Gideon’s Way in which he starred in 26 episodes between 1964-66.
He died suddenly of a heart attack on 8th January 1975, aged 55, whilst on holiday in Somerset. He left his widow Thea and six children.
the Gregson's family home when they moved back to the city from the Wirral
The Gregsons moved here when John was 16, after his father had died from a heart attack.
© Liverpool Footprints