Gracie Fields heritage trail opens in Rochdale

Rochdale Town Hall plaque to Gracie Fields Image copyright Rochdale Borough Council
Image caption The final plaque was unveiled at Rochdale Town Hall, where she received the Freedom of the Borough in 1937

The final plaque of the Gracie Fields heritage trail has been unveiled in her home town of Rochdale.

The eight plaques mark key locations in the life of the entertainer, who was believed to be the highest paid actress in the world in the 1930s.

Her travelling performances for troops during World War Two led her to become known as "the forces' sweetheart".

A statue in her honour is due to be unveiled on 18 September.

The locations of the plaques include St Chad's Church where she was christened and Rochdale Town Hall, where she received the Freedom of the Borough in 1937.

'Our Gracie'

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Gracie Fields was thought to be the best paid actress in the world in the 1930s
  • Gracie Fields was born above a chip shop in 1898
  • Made her first professional stage appearance at Rochdale Hippodrome in 1910
  • She was appointed CBE for services to entertainment in 1938
  • Gracie loved animals - she once had nine greyhounds and bred canaries
  • She was made a dame in 1979
  • Seven months after receiving the title she died aged 81
  • She was buried on the island of Capri in Italy where she had lived in her later years

Richard Farnell, leader of Rochdale Borough Council, said: "Gracie Fields rose from humble beginnings to become an international superstar on the back of sheer talent and hard work.

"It's hard to underestimate the impact she had and it's about time she was properly recognised in her home town."

He added: "This is our chance to show the world how proud we are of her."

The statue of the star, designed by sculptor Sean Hedges Quinn, will be unveiled outside Rochdale Town Hall at 13:00 on 18 September.

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