Sculpture inspired by Kes unveiled near author’s former home in Barnsley

A new artwork depicting the heroes of the book which inspired the classic film Kes has been unveiled near the author's former home. 

The late Barry Hines, who wrote the novel A Kestrel for a Knave, lived in Hoyland Common for much of his life and is commemorated by a blue plaque at the terraced house he called home. 

Now a sculpture of schoolboy Billy Casper and his adopted kestrel, named Kes, has been installed across the road, adjacent to the stone Hoyland Common welcome sign. 

The 6ft 6ins high, free-standing steel artwork of the boy and “his” bird was formally unveiled by children from nearby Kirk Balk High School. 

Kes, the 1968 film starring David Bradley as Billy, was partly filmed in Hoyland Common.  

The new sculpture commissioned by the council is close to many of the shooting locations, including the former Casper’s fish and chip shop in nearby Princess Street. 

Standing in the pocket park at the junction of Hoyland Road and Stead Lane, it illustrates the story of Billy Casper and Kes by showing Billy’s love of nature and his connection with Hoyland Common.  

The steel sculpture was designed by Barnsley artist Patrick Murphy and prototyped using the laser cutter and other equipment at the MakerLab in the DMC in Barnsley town centre. 

Patrick has played an integral part in the ongoing tributes to Barry Hines’ work, including producing a huge land installation titled “Kes50” for the Tour de Yorkshire in 2018. 

A bronze sculpture of Billy and Kes, produced by Barnsley’s Graham Ibbeson, was unveiled in Barnsley town centre in 2022 and a smaller version of this artwork can be seen at Hoyland Library. 

Councillor Robin Franklin, the council’s spokesperson for regeneration and culture, said: “The poignant story of Kes and Billy Casper is known the world over thanks to the wonderful writing of Barry Hines. 

“We were pleased to unveil the sculpture of the two friends in Barnsley town centre in 2022, but it is only fitting that they are also formally remembered close to where Barry lived.  

“This is a fantastic new addition to Hoyland Common, and I hope people will be inspired and proud when they see it.” 

The new sculpture at Hoyland Common was funded by the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) with Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) money aimed at supporting cultural and creative industries across the region. 

Kirk Balk High School has been gifted the original maquette – a smaller version of the sculpture – and invited to put it on display.  

About the artist 

Patrick Murphy has been extensively involved in celebrating Barry Hines’ work.  

He produced a huge land installation titled “Kes50” for the Tour de Yorkshire in 2018 with fellow artist Anton Want, and also created large scale installation of Billy and Kes in vinyl on the windows of the famous Arts Tower part of Sheffield University. 

Patrick has also worked with the Barry Hines Archive, which is held at Sheffield University Archive & Collections, in the production of Untameable project, an exhibition and a book looking at the work of Barry Hines with Professor David Forrest from the University.

He is now working with the archive on a book called Estate. 


Caption: Students from Kirk Balk High School with the new sculpture at Hoyland Common.

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