Do you know the Padgate-born town councillor rumoured to be THE Banksy?
William Gannon, known to some as Billy Gunnin, was born in Padgate and went to school in Woolston.
After a ‘wild’ few years living in the back of vans and joining a graffiti movement some of which spanned across Warrington, Mr Gannon moved to Pembrokeshire in Wales in 2013.
Years on, he is now known as the Pembrokeshire town councillor who resigned after rumours resurfaced that he is the man behind the famous Banksy street artwork – despite his fierce denial of the claims.
Banksy’s identity has been a topic of speculation for decades, with their work showing up on street corners all over the country, many pieces being political statements.
William Gannon was born in Padgate and grew up in Woolston (Image: Supplied) It was reported by Sky News in May 2022, that the Warrington-born councillor had announced his resignation due to the allegations which accused him of being untruthful about his identity and being behind historic illegal graffiti.
The councillor and former graffiti artist issued a statement at the time of the incident, saying: “As you may be aware an allegation has been repeatedly made that I am not who I say I am but that I am the artist Banksy.
“A number of people believe that this allegation is true. This allegation is undermining my ability to do the work of Councillor and Council Rep properly.
“I do not want this allegation to undermine the reputation of Pembroke Dock Town Council. Therefore, I have decided to step down as both Town Councillor and Council Rep to The Port with immediate effect.”
Mr Gannon even sported a badge at the time stating, ‘I am NOT Banksy’.
Now researcher and author-to-be Mike Hale is digging to reveal the truth about Banksy in a tell-all book based on the origins of graffiti and he needs the help of Warrington Guardian readers.
Author-to-be Mike Hale is digging for the truth behind Banksy (Image: Mike Hale) Many believe Banksy is not one person but is a group of artists and art professionals working together across the UK and the rest of the world, Mike explained.
“You will know most of their names, Inkie, Guetta, Lazarides etc, but there is one name that keeps on cropping up but, until recently, no one could put a face to. That name is William Gannon or, as he is sometimes known, Billy Gunnin,” he said.
“Billy is one of the missing links in the Banksy story. I want to tell that story to fill in those missing gaps.
“To do that I need to know more about Billy and his role in the Banksy crew. I have contacted Billy, and he has refused to fill the gaps in for me himself.”
Mike, from Bristol, is asking for readers to come forward who may have known Mr Gannon, or as he refers to him as ‘Billy’, back in his early years as an artist in Warrington.
“I would like to ask your readers do they have any memories or photos of Billy and his early years as an artist in Warrington that they would like to share?
“Has anyone worked with him on any of his projects? Did Billy ever mention Banksy or any other famous artist to them?”
William Gannon is rumoured to be Banksy (Image: Supplied)
Giving some background detail, Mike said Mr Gannon held an exhibition under his own name in his current hometown of Pembroke Dock in 2023.
“The exhibition caused a stir in Pembrokeshire and became known as ‘The Devil in The Library Exhibition’ because of its main exhibit – a huge statue of a demon which was supposedly about climate change,” Mike said.
“No-one makes sculptures like that in their garden sheds. That is a professional sculpture made by an experienced and well-funded professional sculptor.”
Mike added that the councillor also exhibited around 20 of his own graffiti works in the infamous exhibition – some of those works dating back to the 1970s and ‘bear a resemblance to Banksy works both in their artistic style and their irreverent sense of humour’.
“Billy spent most of his time at the start of his career as a member of the ‘TT Crew’,” Mike continued.
“So named because during the 1970’s and 80’s they allegedly used to walk the Train Tracks (TT) and train yards between Warrington and Manchester and Liverpool late at night painting anything that stood still.”
William worked both in Manchester and Liverpool but information on his ware abouts is scarce before he appears in Pembrokeshire in 2010, Mike explained.
“How did he get from painting trains to owning his own huge studio? This story could blow the lid off the reputations of some famous artists and reveal the way the art market really works at the highest levels.”
If you have any information on William Gannon from his youth, growing up as an artist in Warrington that may help Mike, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org