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WATCH: Holmfirth's Compo tribute finally revealed 17 years after Bill Owen's death

TV icon's face is centrepiece of 6ft-high stone slab

A long-awaited tribute to Last of the Summer Wine legend Compo is finally ready.

The 6ft-high upright stone slab featuring a carving of the familiar face of the mischievous ragamuffin - aka actor Bill Owen - is earmarked for a prime position in the centre of Holmfirth once permission has been granted by planners.

A meeting is scheduled to take place before Christmas to finalise the site of the piece.

The slab - known as a ‘stele’ - has been made from hard Yorkstone quarried in Crosland Moor and, when set in place, will stand 6ft high.

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The news comes more than 17 years after the death of the popular film and TV star, who died in July 1999 at the age of 85. A Londoner by birth, Owen had enormous affinity for Yorkshire and, as one of the original stars of Last of the Summer Wine, considered Holmfirth to be a second home.

He is buried in the churchyard of St John’s Parish Church, Upperthong, which overlooks Holmfirth.

Apprentice stonemason Adam Turner with Compo stone carving at Johnson's Wellfield Quarries, Crosland Moor, Huddersfield.

 

Ian Gooch, who helped steer the memorial to its final conclusion, said the long delay was due to a combination of factors including sourcing the right stone and identifying the most appropriate location.

“The statue has been ready for a year. It’s huge,” he said. “It’s over 6ft tall. In fact it is 9ft high but 3ft will be underground. It is a bust carved into the rock face itself. The family wanted something rugged.

 

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“It took the quarry two years to find the right stone. You cannot supermarket shop these things.”

A tribute to the TV icon has been discussed for years. A fund, said to be in the region of £8,000, was raised via fan contributions from around the world. Mr Gooch said the majority of the fund has now been spent and there has been further support from Johnsons Wellfield Quarries, which found and carved the stone.

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“It’s a shame it has taken so long. It has not been straightforward,” said Mr Gooch. “I believe the fund has all been spent. There is enough left to make the foundation for the bust.

Compo stone carving at Johnson's Wellfield Quarries, Crosland Moor, Huddersfield.

 

Bill Owen’s son, Tom, 67, also an actor, said he had seen photographs of the carving which “looks great”.

“I was incredibly frustrated by the length of time that it took, but better late than never. I am really pleased that everything is going ahead.”

It is hoped that an official unveiling will take place in Holmfirth. Mr Owen said he would be involved and hoped to extend an invitation to cast and crew members from the show.

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“I will most certainly be there. I hope cast and crew can come - they will be notified - but everyone is getting on a bit now.

“I am just really pleased that Bill will be in the centre of Holmfirth.”

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