The cooper is portrayed dressed in traditional clothing, including an apron that reaches to his feet. He raises a hammer in his right hand, and with his left hand he supports the trussing hoop that he is attaching to the nearly complete barrel he is working on. He stands on a floor of bricks.
The idea was originally that of the Burton Civic Society, who felt that the completion of the shopping precinct should be marked by a major work of art in a prominent place. The artist made sure his depiction was accurate, right down to the traditional hole in a Burton cooper's apron, by observing the work of the coopers Erdie Lee and Joe Foster at Bass, photographing them and then making preliminary models. (1) In 1977 it was sited in the open air, opposite the market, and was unveiled on 7 May by Robert McNeil, Chairman of the Brewer's Society. (2)
In 1993 reports that the developers wanted to build a glass roof over the shopping centre so that people would not be able to see the Burton Cooper when the shops were shut met with opposition locally, including that of the Burton Civic Society. (3) Nevertheless, the figure was moved to its current site in 1994.
The image of the Burton Cooper is used as a logo for Burton-upon-Trent and appears all around the town.
On plaque on front of pedestal: THE BURTON COOPER/ THE STATUE WAS COMMISSIONED IN 1977 ON BEHALF OF PENSMAN NOMINEES LIMITED/ IN ASSOCIATION WITH/ THE BURTON BREWERS, THE BURTON CIVIC SOCIETY AND LOCAL TRADERS/ IN 1994 PENSMAN NOMINEES PRESENTED THE STATUE TO/ EAST STAFFORDSHIRE BOROUGH COUNCIL/ IN TRUST FOR THE PEOPLE OF BURTON.
On plaque on side of pedestal: THE BURTON COOPER/ CREATED IN 1977 BY JAMES BUTLER RA, THIS BRONZE STATUE DEPICTS A COOPER,/ A TRADITIONAL LOCAL CRAFTSMAN/ HAMMERING DOWN THE TRUSSES ON THE CASK SO THAT IRON HOOPS CAN BE FITTED/ IT CELEBRATES THE HISTORIC CASK MAKING AND REPAIRING SKILLS/ WHICH HAVE BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH BURTON UPON TRENT/ SINCE THE BREWING INDUSTRY WAS FIRST FOUNDED
On plaque on back of pedestal: COOPER'S SQUARE/ THE BURTON UPON TRENT SHOPPING CENTRE/ THE BURTON UPON TRENT SHOPPING CENTRE WAS FORMALLY OPENED/ ON TUESDAY 24TH MARCH 1970/ BY HRH PRINCESS ALEXANDRA THE HON. MRS ANGUS OGLIVY, G.C.V.O./ IN 1994, A PROGRAM OF IMPROVEMENTS/ ONCE AGAIN PROVIDED THE TOWN WITH A CONTEMPORARY SHOPPING ENVIRONMENT/ THE MAYOR OF THE BOROUGH OF EAST STAFFORDSHIRE CLLR. PETER EDGINGTON/ UNVEILED THIS PLAQUE ON 9TH FEBRUARY 1995/ TO MARK THE COMPLETION OF THE RENOVATION OF COOPER'S SQUARE
On plaque on side of pedestal: THE COOPER'S SQUARE/ TIME CAPSULE/ BENEATH THE STATUE OF THE COOPER ARE TWO TIME CAPSULES/ EACH HOLDING FIVE ITEMS WHICH SYMBOLISE BURTON UPON TRENT IN THE 1990s./ THE CONTENTS WERE SUGGESTED BY THE WINNERS OF A SPECIAL/ COMPETITION FOR LOCAL CHILDREN/ HELD DURING THE RENOVATION OF COOPER'S SQUARE IN 1994.
PMSA recording information