Gracie Fields: Rochdale statue and heritage trail planned

Gracie Fields Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Gracie Fields was thought to be the best paid actress in the world in the 1930s

A statue of actress Dame Gracie Fields is to be built in her home town of Rochdale, it has been announced.

A life-sized sculpture of the English singer and entertainer will be put up on The Butts, near Smith Street.

Eight blue plaques marking key locations in her life will also be put in place to create a "Gracie heritage trail".

And an existing memorial, close to her birthplace in Molesworth Street, is to be refurbished.

Gracie Fields was believed to be the most highly paid actress in the world in the 1930s.

Born in 1898, she made her first stage appearance in 1905 and went on to become a popular star of London's West End.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The actress was appointed CBE for services to entertainment in 1938, and made a dame in 1979

Her travelling performances for troops during World War Two led her to become known as "the forces sweetheart", and she also starred in many films.

She eventually retired to Capri in Italy, but never forgot her Rochdale roots and made frequent trips home to perform.

Fields was made a dame in 1979 a few months before her death aged 81.

Rochdale Borough Council will discuss plans for the statue and heritage trail next week.

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