Remembrance Sunday: Leigh World War One hero to be commemorated with brand new mural

A new street mural celebrating a Wigan borough war hero is close to completion.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 4:55 am

The street art, designed by Tony Kelzo and Evan Barlow, shows an image of Alfred Robert Wilkinson from Leigh, who fought in World War One and was a recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Passers-by will be able to see the mural on Twist Lane, as the final touches are applied in time for Remembrance Sunday.

Kelzo said: “I’ve always earmarked this wall as somewhere a mural would look great. I wanted to do one of Alfred Robert Wilkinson because I know the people of Leigh are very proud of their town and their local heroes.

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The new mural is of Alfred Robert Wilkinson

“I proposed the idea to a Facebook group to help get it off the ground before Remembrance Sunday, and almost instantly I had support from people like the ex-MP Jo Platt and Wigan Council.

“It is a good community, so I wanted to do something special for them. I’ve done it with full respect, to create a beautiful piece of street art that will attract all ages. The reaction has been phenomenal.”

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Alfred Robert Wilkinson was born December 5 1986, and enlisted to the Royal Scots Grey at the outbreak of war in 1914.

Evan Barlow and Tony Kelzo painted the mura

He also served in the second Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, and 1/5th Battalion, The Manchester Regiment, British Army.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Battle of Selle, where he volunteered to deliver a message, despite others before him being killed carrying out the act.

Wilkinson died from Carbon Monoxide poisoning in 1940 during a mining accident in his hometown.

The idea to create a mural for him came after the artists were involved in painting another World War One soldier, Alan Knight, at a church in Salford.

The mural is on Twist Lane in Leigh

Following a positive reception, Kelzo, 51, decided to pursue this latest project, which he was passionate about due to his love of history.

He said: “I know Leigh as a town has a long history of British soldiers living in Leigh. When I was doing previous work, I found out about Alfred Robert Wilkinson. I’ve been studying local history for the last ten years, which has been entwined with my street art.

“In towns like this it is really interesting, and I am really focussed on it. I want to go to places and paint local heroes. Seeing people driving past, beeping their horns, smiling, and some crying, is the perfect result.

“I want to do quite a few different themes around Leigh, because it can help to educate young people. A lot of them are condemned around the UK, so as adults and street artists we need help to inspire them.

“I want all generations to have a way of connecting with a piece of artwork.”

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