Almost 20 years after his death, Holmfirth is still no closer to honouring TV scallywag Compo.
When veteran actor Bill Owen died in 1999 the Holme Valley community that had taken him to his heart came together to pay tribute.
As per his wishes the 85-year-old star was buried in the cemetery of St John’s Parish Church at Upperthong, overlooking the town that provided the backdrop to hundreds of episodes of Last of the Summer Wine.
He was joined there by Peter Sallis, who died last summer, aged 96. The two friends, both Londoners, lie side-by-side in the churchyard.
But, nearly two decades on, the campaign to permanently remember Bill appears to have ground to a halt, with a much-heralded statue still no closer to being erected.
In 2014 it was announced that a bust of the beloved TV icon had been commissioned and would be installed “within weeks” on a site on Victoria Street, but funding and location issues combined to torpedo the project.
A year later the bust had become a three-dimensional stone carving, with the money to pay for it donated by Summer Wine fans from around the world. The fund was said to be in the region of £8,000.
Ian Gooch, the man in charge of the project, said: “The idea is to make it the same size as Bill at just over 5ft and his face will be carved out of it in 3D, so that it can be seen from both the front and sides of the stone.”
Everything went quiet until the autumn of 2016 when the Examiner discovered that a tasteful tribute did indeed exist and could be found in Johnson’s Wellfield Quarries at Crosland Moor.
The 9ft stone ‘stele’ – an upright slab – features a carving of the familiar face of the mischievous ragamuffin. Mr Gooch said it was earmarked for a prime position in the centre of Holmfirth once permission was granted by planners.
Bill son, Tom, also an actor who played Compo’s son in the TV sitcom, expressed his frustration at the on-going delays but said it was right that his father would be at the heart of the town he loved.
Several businesses in Holmfirth trade on the legacy of the TV show including Sid’s Cafe, Compo’s Fish and Chips and the Last of the Summer Wine gift shop. It remains a magnet for fans.
Actor Ken Kitson, 71, who played the ineffectual PC Cooper in 88 episodes between 1983 and 2010, said the tribute was “long overdue.”
He added: “In my view the statue should be of all three of them: Compo, Foggy and Clegg. An ideal spot for it would be in the little memorial garden off Station Road overlooking the River Holme, or in the yard outside Sid’s Cafe off Towngate. Then it’s accessible to everybody and close to the town centre.”