NEW city centre statues depicting famous characters with connections to Worcester have been officially unveiled in the city's historic Cornmarket.

Dignitaries and members of the public gathered in the square where the four new statues are positioned this morning to see the cloaks hiding the statues removed, to reveal the four new arrivals to the public.

Each statue features a bronze cast, three dimensional figure sitting on top of plinths that have panels providing information on the lives of the famous figures.

The statues are of King Charles II, William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway, Reverend Goffrey Studdert Kennedy and Vesta Tilley.

The figures were chosen after a public vote which was set up to see who the favourites were from a list of famous names, who had a strong connection to the City of Worcester.

At the beginning of the unveiling ceremony, Worcestershire County Council leader Simon Geraghty said the art had been commissioned as the final part of a £500,000 revamp of the historic area, and wider investment into the city centre's gateways.

Councillor Paul Denham, mayor of Worcester, said: "I am delighted these statues are now installed - they will prove a point of interest in the historic Cornmarket."

King Charles II famously went into hiding in the city, to escape enemy soldiers after the Battle of Worcester, while it is believed William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway were married at the Cornmarket’s St Martin’s Church.

Reverend Goffrey Studdert Kennedy, the vicar of St Paul’s Church, was given the nickname Woodbine Willie for giving out the Bible and packets of Woodbine cigarettes to soldiers during the First World War.

Worcester born music hall star Vesta Tilley was once one of the world’s best paid women entertainers, becoming famous in both Britain and the United States as a male impersonator.

Project manager Martin Rowe said: "The Cornmarket became a sad area, so we wanted to improve this key gateway to the city centre, and do something for traders and their thriving businesses.

"We did a lot of research, looking at other Cathedral cities, and one thing we discovered is that people cherish public art.

"This has taken eight months, the artists working painstakingly on each statue.

"We are delighted with the turnout to see them unveiled."

The statues were created by Planet Art, who involved The Hive, St Paul’s hostel, St Martin’s Church and Stanley Road Primary School.

Artist Ron Thomas, who was involved in the process, said: "Each statue took a month to do, and with any public art it is about meeting people and getting their thoughts.

"They are built to withstand anything - they are built to last."

• THE artwork has been getting a lot of attention since being unveiled.

Paul Rose, from Pershore, said it was a good surprise to see them revealed as he had not heard of the project.

"They are very good, an excellent way of educating people about Worcester's history," he said.

Vicky Fresier, from Worcester, made the trip to the ceremony especially as she said her nan's cousin was Vesta Tilley.

"All the statues are wonderful - my family will be really pleased with Vesta's statue."

Frank Cox said: "The characters they have chosen are all good choices."

On the Worcester News website Hwicce said: "Nice enough statues, but why do we have to keep creating nice open spaces and then clutter then all up with "street furniture" all the time."

Billbadger said: "Really impressive statues - unfortunately they are a bit small."

Mama-Cuddles added: "They are very small but my confusion is in the positioning of some of them.

"I can imagine them being walked into on a dark night or by the nearby pub leavers."