Will Hay, star of some of the best-known British comedy films of the mid-20th century (‘Oh Mr Porter’ is the best known of these), came to lodge at Wellington House during part of his time in Belper, where he began his professional career. As a stand-up comedian and performer, he appeared at a tented theatre on Lion Croft, behind Wellington House, on what is now the Lion Hotel and Field Lane car parks.
He is supposed to have written some of his best early routines while staying at Wellington House. From 1904, the Smithfield next to the Lion Croft was used as a cattle market, and by 1914 Hay had moved away and the tented theatre was gone.
Wellington House after World War Two
After the Second World War, businessman Norman Cox and his family lived at Wellington House. Norman sold Rolls-Royce cars to the American market for many years, with great success. A number of locations in the town, including the Wellington House drive, were used as a backdrop for photographs of the vehicles which were then sent to his clients.