Willy Collins memorial: Close-up look at now-famous Yorkshire monument, guarded by security van

Iconic Sheffield landmarks are familiar territory on Shiregreen Lane in Sheffield.

For decades it was known for the Shiregreen Working Men’s Club, the centrepiece for one of the most famous scenes in the famous Sheffield film The Full Monty.

The club is now disused, with an estate agent’s sign on the wall.

But just a few yards away, another part of Shiregreen is now pulling in the visitors.

A visitor at the Willy Collins memorial at Shiregreen Cemetery, Sheffield

Since a memorial was unveiled to famous bare knuckle fighter Willy Collins, known in his community as the King of Sheffield, people have travelled from all over the UK to see the giant marble tribute which has been built there by his family.

Walking through the gates of the cemetery, the new monument is instantly visible. Although it is on the far side of the site, a row of four Irish tricolours atop 20ft flagpoles, blowing in the light afternoon breeze instantly draw the eye.

Walking along the narrow concrete paths, the monument is easy to find.

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A security van parked near the Willy Collins memorial at Shiregreen Cemetery, Sheffield

During my visit, Willy’s son, also called William, was among those looking at the grand marble structure, situated in a corner along with a number of other family graves from the Collins family.

His pride in his dad and the family’s tribute is clear. Although he did not want to go on camera, he was happy to explain the details of the 37 ton monument, built from Italian Carrara marble, the same sort that Michelangelo used.

Heading through the gate, next to a marble seat labelled King, are two six foot high statues. One has detail to the point of depicting a scar on his cheek.

One of the statues, on the left, depicts Willy in his trainers, dressed for bare knuckle fighting. The second statue, on the left, shows him wearing his boots and dressed as though he was going out. In between them is a depiction of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting.

In front of the bench is a jukebox. The CD depicted on the stone casing of the structure depicts the cover of a disc by the Irish singer Joe Dolan, listing a number of his tracks. But the speakers will play more than that. It is designed to link up to a mobile phone, and will play any song available through the internet.

WIlliam was clear though that it is not left playing all the time – it is only switched on by the family when they visit the grave.

Several people arrived at the memorial, expressing admiration for the structure. Two arrived in a green, open top Lamborghini to take a look at the white marble artwork.

The family has put in place security of a sort rarely seen in place in a cemetery. Towering over the memorial are closed circuit television cameras.

But they have also arranged a security company to park on the site and keep watch, with the van parked just a few yards away.

One visitor said: “You used to see people using the cemetery as somewhere to drink alcohol. You don’t see that any more.”

One man walking on the paths said he thought it was too big and was worried what would happen if any bits fell over.

But he said the artwork on the memorial was beautiful.