Wigan poet known as Bard of Ince is a hit with fans
A popular Wigan poet has become an internet and social media sensation with his ability to turn all the town’s yesterdays into rhymes.
Kevin Holcroft, also known as The Bard of Ince, has been creating his verses about the area, its history and its people for several years and now has hundreds of evocative poems to his name.
His nostalgic evocations of Ince’s days gone by and his ability to turn well-known Wigan tales and events into poetry have struck a real chord with residents online, with thousands of people viewing and liking his work where it is published on social media.
Kevin said he first got interested in writing in his late teens but began to produce an extraordinary amount of work, now available in all its glory on the Characters of Ince group on Facebook and on his own website The Bard of Ince, once he retired.
The 70-year-old said: “When I finished work I was bored and needed to find something to do.
“I saw the website called Characters of Ince and thought I would put one of my poems on it and see if people liked it.
“They really liked it so I thought I would do another one. I built up a bit of a fan club.”
However, not everyone took to Kevin’s verses so his poetry was put to the test in a people’s vote to see if it could remain on Characters of Ince. The result was overwhelming.
Kevin said: “People were complaining about having poetry on the site so they had a referendum. They put the poet to the people.
“You should have seen the response. It was about 500 to one, so I kept on doing it.
“It’s only a bit of fun and something to pass the time, but it’s a way of life that people remember and they relish it. It’s nostalgia.
“I must have written about 600 poems now. People appreciate it so I do it for them. When you get good feedback it inspires you to work harder to please them.
“If someone mentions something about years ago I will do a poem about it. People will ask if I remember this or that, perhaps like the knocker-upper say, and I will work it up into a poem.”
Kevin cut his poetic teeth on the Legend of Bushy Tom, a sobering and cautionary tale about an ale-fuelled dare for money near the canal in Ince which went tragically wrong.
Other poems on his website discuss everything from jackbit to playing games such as marbles to taking a sidelong look at aspects of modern life such as having a mobile phone.
There are also evocations of the countryside around Ince and poems about local history, particularly that relating to the mining industry.
The poems often draw on Kevin’s childhood in Wigan in the 1950s, which he described as “a harsh and trying time/with cobbled streets around me/The cut and the railway line.”
However, he also said that while many people were poor, especially compared to modern material standards, there was “a yesterday of fondness/With character galore/And down to earth simplicity/When life was sweet and slow”.
Such is Kevin’s dedication to his chosen art that when the Wigan Observer asked him to explain a little more about his life he sent back his own biography via email in rhyming form.
Before his retirement he worked on the railways in track maintenance, but during his career he did jobs including roles in construction, lab assistant, warehouseman and posts in the telecoms industry.
His website was put together by his son David and his work on Facebook has now received as many as 50,000 likes.
To enjoy some of Kevin’s poetry, visit www.kevinholcroft.co.uk