Memorial Statue Honors LOTSW's "Compo"

Tea Time Tidbit for the week of January 23, 2017

Tea Time Tidbit

Bill Owen as "Compo,"
with Kathy Staff as "Nora Batty"

Bill Owen may have been little, standing at just 5’ 4” tall in his wellies, but he was a huge presence in the lives of the many, many fans of Last of the Summer Wine. Now, seventeen years after his death, the little man with the cheeky grin and the sassy comeback will once again be the center of attention in the town he loved best, Holmfirth, where permission has finally been granted to erect a tribute to "Compo" in the form of a 6' high memorial.

» Visit Huddersfield Daily Examiner to see photos of the finished work

Although he was born in London, Owen thought of Holmfirth as his second home. He certainly spent enough time there, considering the longevity of the series. His character "Compo" was a major part of the series for 27 years, until Owen’s untimely death in 1999 at the age of 85.

Tea Time Tidbit

On location in Holmfirth where LOTSW was filmed

Owen’s final resting place is the St. John’s Parish Churchyard in Upperthong, a small village overlooking Holmfirth. It’s probably no coincidence that Owen was buried there, given that the village is the birthplace of Welly Wanging, a sport similar to javelin throwing, except with a wellington boot instead of a spear. Each year, on the last weekend in June, Upperthong hosts the World Welly Wanging Championships, an event I’m sure Compo would never have missed!

The idea of a memorial was first proposed back in 2003 by Owen’s son Tom, who joined LOTSW after his father’s death playing the role of Tom Simmonite. His original idea was to install a heritage garden and a statue of "Compo" in Holmfirth, but the upkeep would have been too costly. As it was the money raised for the tribute, £8,000 (about $10,000), had to be supplemented with support from the quarry company which found and carved the upright slab of hard Yorkstone with Compo’s image.

Alan Bell, who directed LOTSW between 1981 and 2010, gave the project to memorialize "Compo" a resounding thumbs up, reportedly saying that it reminded him of the “superb countryside that became the real star of Last of the Summer Wine and how much the success of that programme depended upon Bill Owen - a Londoner - but a Londoner with a passion for all things Yorkshire.”

Last of the Summer Wine airs at 1:30pm weekdays on Afternoon Tea.

To contact Heather:
E-mail: heather@mpt.org
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117

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