Landmark Barnsley pub featured in film Kes to be demolished

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Film buffs will know it as the backdrop to scenes from the critically-acclaimed Yorkshire motion picture Kes.

Now the Barnsley pub which featured in the 1969 Ken Loach classic could be flattened within weeks to make way for a new development.

Andy Thompson, director of ATTA Properties, at the Dards pub in Cudworth, near Barnsley. Below: Dai Bradley in Kes.

Andy Thompson, director of ATTA Properties, at the Dards pub in Cudworth, near Barnsley. Below: Dai Bradley in Kes.

Dard’s in Cudworth has been shut for six months after previous owner Enterprise Inns put it up for sale.

Former landlady Adele Sellars pulled her last pint there in April after the pub company refused her bid to buy it.

She voiced her fears at the time that the “landmark” building could be knocked down within six months.

Now her prediction has come true, with developers ATTA Properties submitting an application to Barnsley Council to demolish it.

Dai Bradley in Kes

Dai Bradley in Kes

Architectural technologist Tom Agus, who founded the firm with friend Andy Thompson, said: “The Dard’s used to be a popular pub, as did a lot of other public houses.

“Unfortunately times change and it seems the numbers were not entering through the door, leaving no option but to close.

“Before we decided to buy the property we did not want to see it be converted to bedsits, flats or a shopping centre. The building may look the same from the outside, but it would lose its soul.”

He added: “We have lived in Barnsley all our lives.

“It will be sad to see the building go, and it is unfortunate the pub could no longer be sustainable, but times do change and it seems to be the case that more and more public houses are closing.

“We do not want to see it fizzle out and die. I am positive we can produce a development that will be fitting to the site.”

The pair have pledged to draw on the building’s character for their designs for the new development, which Mr Agus said is “more than likely” to be a housing scheme, although plans are still being finalised.

The project will also create jobs for local construction workers as well as helping to boost the area’s economy and address the national housing shortage, he added.

“We are in a position where we need to develop the site in a way as to retain the history, but also be realistic in what would be beneficial for the people of Cudworth and the surrounding area,” he said. “After a long debate, we decided that the best option would be for the existing building to be demolished and new development to be designed in line with the current building.

“A lot of people have been in favour of redevelopment, however we understand a lot of people will be sad to see the building demolished. As with anything that has memories, you are going to be sad to see change, but I hope the plans will be welcome.”

Demolition should be complete within three or four weeks.

The pub is not the first Barnsley landmark from Kes to face the wrecking ball. The former St Helen’s School, later renamed Edward Sheerien School, where much of the filming took place, was also demolished in 2011.

Filming also took place in and around the village of Lundwood. The film, which cost £160,000 to make, used virtually no professional actors.

David – now known as Dai – Bradley was chosen from hundreds of local schoolboys to play the lead role of Billy Casper and extras came from in and around the town.

Executives worried that the characters’ strong accents would be “unintelligible” to anyone outside northern England and its release was initially limited to just five cinemas in Yorkshire.

But it went on to become a word-of-mouth hit and is now considered a classic, ranking seventh in the British Film Institute’s top 10 British films list.

The film tells the story of 15-year-old working class schoolboy Billy and his friendship with a kestrel he tames and trains.

Based on the novel A Kestrel for a Knave, by British author Barry Hines, it is a gritty portait of life in the former mining community.

Neglected by his family and bullied by his brother as well as his classmates, Billy has little hope in life until he takes the bird under his wing and for the first time finds direction and some happiness – until tragedy strikes.

The film won a number of major awards, including the 1971 Writers’ Guild of Great Britain award for best screenplay, and the best supporting actor and best newcomer categories at the 1971 British Academy film awards.

It also launched the careers of a number of British actors and writers including the late Brian Glover, who went on to star in a number of Hollywood blockbusters.