GRAFFITI artists from Manchester have painted a tribute to a local war hero on a house in Leigh.

Tony Brady, known as “Kelzo”, and Evan Barlow designed the mural which shows First World War veteran Alfred Robert Wilkinson who was a recipient of the Victoria Cross. 

The artwork, on Twist Lane, was completed in time for Remembrance Sunday. 
“Whenever I was in Leigh, and I would get the bus back to Manchester I used to pass this wall on Twist Lane and think I’d love to paint that one day.

“I thought it would be a great idea to paint Alfred Wilkinson in time for Remembrance Sunday on the gable end, so I posted my idea on to a community Facebook group in Leigh to see what people thought,” Kelzo told the Journal. 

After seeking approval from residents, Kelzo contacted local councillors to ask for their support in creating the mural. 

“I got a phone call from Jo Platt [the former Leigh MP] and she was really keen in helping me make it happen,” he said. 

Leigh Journal:

Alfred Robert Wilkinson was born December 5 1896, and was enlisted to the Royal Scots Grey at the outbreak of war in 1914.

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.

Wilkinson died from carbon monoxide poisoning in 1940 during a mining accident at Bickershaw Colliery. 

Kelzo said: “The reactions from the people of Leigh who have passed by as we were doing the artwork were incredible.

“Everyone was beeping their car horns and giving up thumbs ups or walking past and stopped to give us compliments. 

“The residents were just so supportive it’s been such a beautiful thing to be involved in.” 

The idea behind the mural was first sparked after the artists were involved with another war mural in Salford. 

“In 2021 we painted a soldier called Alan Knight on the side of the church he was baptised in in Salford.

Leigh Journal:

“It went down a storm with the locals there,” Kelzo said. 

He added: “I have always wanted to do something for the people of Leigh. 

“I wanted to create something that would resonate with people so when they looked at it, they would understand how much thought has been put into it.”

During the painting process, Kelzo and Evan said they were met with new inspirations from the people they met along the way. 

“There was this little white fluffy dog who watched us out of the window the whole time called Teddy, so we painted him into the piece.

“We also met an elderly woman called Jean who could see the mural from her window. 

“We ended up having tea with her most nights and she told us about her father who played the cornet in the war, so we added him onto the wall.”

Leigh Journal:

The mural also features the Leigh crest, Spinners Mill, the town hall with the old market and a wooden monument at Pennington Wharf of Alfred Wilkinson. 

Kelzo said: “The lad who lives in the house that we have painted is in the RAF so we painted in old World War One fighter planes serenading Alfred to represents him as well.

“I really wanted to do something magnificent for the people of Leigh that portrayed their past.

“Residents have been so grateful for the mural. Some have even been very emotional over it saying how beautiful it is so it’s been really great to see them happy and smiling.”