Ulverston's Stan Laurel statue
PUBLISHED: 10:58 17 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:52 20 February 2013
Mike Glover reports on fight to bring a statue of Ulverston born Stan Laurel the centre of this Cumbrian town
WHEN comedian Ken Dodd unveils the statue of his hero Stan Laurel, with partner Oliver Hardy and terrier Laughing Gravy, in his birth-place of Ulverston this month it brings to an end a very long journey.
But everyone involved in the project is convinced that the wait will be well worth it and marks the start of a regeneration of the Lancashire market town.
Stan Laurel was born in Foundry Cottages, now Argyll Street on June 16, 1890. It is 83 years since the iconic duo made the first of their 106 films in a career which fixed their place as the doyens of comedy.
It is more than 20 years since the first Mayor of Ulverston, Bill Cubin, embarked on a mission to have a statue to commemorate Stan's connections with the town. And the statue itself has been gathering dust for four years.
Mr Cubin was a life-long fan who travelled the world to collect memorabilia and turned his hobby into a full-blown museum behind the family home in Upper Brook Street.
When his health started to fail before his death 12 years ago Mr Cubin passed the baton to his daughter Marion Grave, who still runs the museum, and called in his friend Eric Woods, self-mockingly called the Grand Sheik of the Sons of the Desert.
This Laurel and Hardy appreciation society was set up in the early 1960s and named after a mythical brotherhood which featured in the 1933 film Fraternally Yours. Its branches are called tents.
It was Mr Woods, of Widnes, who made the first approach to Ken Dodd, when he bumped into him in an airport check-in queue for a flight to Berlin.
'It was an amazing coincidence. The Sons of the Desert had got within a couple of thousand pounds of raising the money for the sculpture and we had been kicking around names of people we would ask to unveil it. Ken Dodd was an obvious choice as he is such a fan and there I was standing next to him.'
He immediately said he would do it and South Lakeland District Council booked him to perform at Coronation Hall after the unveiling on Sunday afternoon on April 19. The concert sold out its 636 capacity within a couple of days.
Ken Dodd told Lancashire Life: 'Ulverston is rightly proud of its finest export and I am delighted and honoured to be unveiling the statue which will serve to pay rightful homage to a man whose humour reflected his genuine love of people and his instinctive ability to know what made people laugh.'