Bronze sculpture of Kes character Bill Casper unveiled at Barnsley museum

No fiction character sums up the working class Barnsley of the 1960s quite like Barry Hines’ creation of Bill Casper.

Wednesday, 27th February 2019, 10:43 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th February 2019, 10:47 am
Finished: Graham Ibbeson with his completed Billy Casper sculpture

Now the mood of the era – as well as the anorak, plimsolls and snake belt those who grew up in the period will instantly recognise – has been captured by sculptor Graham Ibbeson and is expected to be displayed in the town centre for generations to come.

The sculpture shows a young Dai Bradley, star of the film version of Hines’ novel A Kestrel for a Knave, with the bird which gave the film Kes its name.

The work has been unveiled for a residency at the council’s Experience Barnsley museum in the Town Hall, where it is expected to stay for at least a year until arrangements are finalised about exactly where it will be mounted in the town centre.

It was funded solely be work by a group of enthusiasts who wanted to see Barry Hines’ talent recognised.

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Although his string of novels earned him fame before his death, he was shy and unassuming – with the expectation that he would prefer a monument to feature his most famous character rather than himself.

The group is now working with the council to find the most appropriate site in the town centre, which is currently being regenerated with the Glass Works shopping and leisure centre, in addition to new public spaces.

Ibbeson himself has his own ideas about how the sculpture should be used.

He would like to see it mounted on a plinth which would see Billy Casper’s head rise above the town centre crowds, while remaining among the community.

The results of the project have impressed its creator, who said: “I am over the moon, I have really enjoyed this project.

“I have worked on this with six other people, to raise the funds.

“I have not felt pressured; I made it in Barnsley, it will go in Barnsley and I am from Barnsley, born and bred,” he said.

The work is among his last commissioned sculptures, before retirement, with the ‘three degrees’, featuring a trio of early black soccer stars, to be unveiled in West Bromwich in May, the same month as his tribute to Victoria Wood will also go public.