“Big” Willy Collins, known to many in the traveling community he came from as the “King of Sheffield”, was aged just 49 when he died during a family holiday to Majorca in July 2020
Image: Scott Merrylees/SWNS)
Britain’s “biggest headstone” which features two life-sized models of the deceased and a solar-powered jukebox could be torn down after it emerged it was built “without permission”.
Bare-knuckle boxer “Big” Willy Collins, dubbed the “King of Sheffield” by the traveling community he came from, was aged just 49 when he died during a family holiday to Majorca in July 2020.
The huge grave stone – which is said to be made of 37 tonnes of fine Italian marble – has been branded an “eyesore” and “monstrosity” by some visitors to the cemetery in Sheffield who’ve taken issue with its extravagance, Yorkshire Live reports .
Council bosses revealed that the headstone had been erected “without permission”, meaning it may have to be demolished in the future.
And now Sheffield City Council has announced they are considering the “next steps” to address the memorial.
The local authority rules that memorials must be under three inches thick and no taller than 4.4ft.
Applicants also need to notify the council about materials and proposed inscriptions before permission is granted.
Councillor Alison Teal, executive member for sustainable neighbourhoods, wellbeing, parks and leisure, said: “We are aware of a large memorial which has been erected in Shiregreen Cemetery. This memorial was built without permission and we are currently considering our next steps.
“Cemeteries are a place where people can come, pay their respects and visit loved ones who are no longer with us. We understand memorials are deeply personal, however we must have rules in place to ensure fairness.”
The stone – which is emblazoned with the word “King” in large gold letters – has been shared on TikTok since his family unveiled it last Thursday.
But some visitors have no problem with the gravestone at all.
Mandy Stratford, who was visiting a loved one’s grave at the cemetery, told the BBC: “I think it’s beautiful. It doesn’t offend me at all and I think it’d be a shame if they did take it down.
“I don’t think it’s offending anybody in the position it’s in. If it was in the middle near everyone’s loved ones I could understand it.”
The stone features imposing biblical carvings, a working jukebox playing Willy’s favorite tunes, and 24-hour surveillance which acts as a walkie-talkie for his family to converse with him whenever they need.
However, many other visitors have branded the stone an “eyesore” and a “monstrosity”.
Kelly Greaves said: “My husband’s cousin has had no end of problems with red tape for her 21-year-old son’s serious. Can’t put this on or that. Yet it’s nothing like this.
“I’m not saying this is wrong! I’m saying if this is right then it should be right for everyone and should be equal.”
Lesley Smith said: “How was that monstrosity allowed? Countless times, bereaved parents of young children have had to move teddy bears etc from graves in other cemeteries. Lights and a jukebox in a cemetery whatever next.”
Willy’s family spared no expense for his send-off, which featured a procession of Rolls Royce cars and a horse and carriage. The funeral was a massive affair, with hundreds of well-wishers lining the streets to pay their respects, to a man that was very well known in the Darnall area of Sheffield.
Meanwhile, Tara Dawn Ellen said that the structure “looks hideous” and Gill Camidge agreed, commenting: “OBSCENE should not be allowed. Let them build their monstrosity on their own land!!”
And Lorraine Larkings said: “How or why are allowed such a big area? If you go over your grave area you soon get a letter to remove it.”
Peter Bradford said that it is “embarrassing that this has been allowed to happen”, while Carol Bodham said: “What a monstrosity absolutely hideous”.
And Leslie Wand said that she has been tending to her own daughter’s grave in Shiregreen Cemetery and has had to “put up with the loud music.”
Simone Fenton-Jarvis said: “Sheffield City Council Can you explain how this was allowed? Music in a cemetery? What happened to rest in peace? I also thought there was a lack of space leading to increased cremations?!”