CORONATION Street actress Liz Dawn died "peacefully in her sleep", her family has said.

A statement from the family said: "We are devastated and heartbroken at the passing of our much-loved wife, mother, sister, grandmother and great grandmother, the incredible Liz Dawn."

"Liz died peacefully last night at home with her loving family around her.

"She has been the love, light and inspiration in our lives and we are bereft at her passing."

A statement from Coronation Street said: "It is with the greatest sadness that we have learned our beloved Liz Dawn has passed away last night. Her family at Coronation Street are heartbroken.

"We extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathy at this very sad time to Liz's devoted husband Don, her loving children Graham, Dawn, Ann and Julie, their families and her six grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

"We have been blessed to have Liz in our lives, as she was such a kind, considerate and caring friend and colleague. As Coronation Street's Vera Duckworth for 34 years, Liz brought so much joy and happiness to so many. She was a wonderful actress who will forever be a true Coronation Street legend."

OBITUARY: Actress who was one half of one of the soap world's most popular - and quarrelsome - couples

Gazette & Herald:

Liz Dawn at Buckingham Palace after she received an MBE in 2000. Picture: PA

LIZ Dawn made her name as the argumentative Vera Duckworth, a much-loved character in Coronation Street and one of the longest-serving members of the cast.

With screen husband, Jack (played by Bill Tarmey), they became one of the soap world's most popular - and quarrelsome - couples.

Dawn first set foot on the cobbles as a factory worker in 1974 .

She was on the soap for 34 years, until her character was written out of the ITV show in 2008 at the actress's request.

The episode in which her character died peacefully in her sleep in her armchair was seen by more than 12 million viewers.

Dawn had been diagnosed with the lung disease emphysema in 2004.

She returned for a one-off appearance as Vera's ghost in 2010 for Tarmey's final scenes.

She later said of life in a soap: "It does take over your life.

"People don't realise. They think you've had a charmed life. They don't see that you've brought up four children and learnt lines on the train."

Liz Dawn was born Sylvia Butterfield in Leeds on November 8, 1938.

She left school at 16 and worked selling light bulbs in Woolworths, as well as in a local tailoring factory, as a cinema usherette and shoe salesgirl.

She began her showbusiness career as a nightclub singer. By the late 1960s she ventured into acting, often taking small parts in TV programmes as well as appearing in commercials.

During the 1970s Dawn appeared in a variety of programmes, including All Creatures Great And Small and Colin Welland's play Leeds United.

In 2000, Dawn was chosen as the Lady Mayoress of Leeds and was awarded an MBE in October of that year for services to charity, having helped to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for hospitals in the Manchester and Leeds areas.

She campaigned for the British Lung Foundation, fronting campaigns to raise awareness.

She enjoyed a cameo role and came out of retirement in 2015 - two years after suffering a heart attack - for ITV soap Emmerdale.

"I love my character. What a feisty lady she is!," she said at the time, of Mrs Winterbottom.

"Giving them all a run for their money in the B&B on Christmas Day. She's so rude to them, which isn't like me at all."

Dawn had four children and was married twice - to miner Walter Bradley in 1957, with whom she had her first child, and to electrician Donald Ibbertson in 1965.

Coronation Street stars have led tributes to Liz Dawn following her death.

The actress, who played Vera Duckworth for more than 30 years, died peacefully, her family said.

Antony Cotton - the soap's Sean Tully - wrote on Twitter: "I'm devastated. Liz was a wonderful actress, a fascinating storyteller, a hilarious comedian and most importantly a brilliant friend.

"For many people of my generation, Jack and Vera WERE Coronation Street."

He added: "A light had gone out in Weatherfield a few years ago, but now Manchester too, has lost a little of its sparkle."

Kym Marsh - who plays Michelle Connor - wrote: "Just heard the terrible news of our lovely Liz Dawns passing. I'm so sad. What a wonderful lady. She will be so missed. Love to her family x

Actor Kevin Kennedy, who played Corrie character Curly Watts for around 20 years, said he can only smile when he thinks of the actress.

He told ITV's This Morning: "It's very sad. We are a big family. I was thinking about what to say about Liz. My thoughts go out to Don and her family. When I think about Liz, I always have a smile on my face. What an amazing legacy. That's what we've got to be thinking about today - her wonderfulness and a very funny actress."

"She took all the youngsters (on the show) under her wing. She was a lot cleverer than people thought she was, in regards to acting. She was brilliant. She was very humble in that respect. I used to live very close to her and she was always inviting us round to the house. We used to have a laugh. She was the one you could go to for advice."

He added that watching her and Bill Tarmey as a double act was "comedy gold and British comedy and British writing at it's best".

He ended saying: "I can only smile when I think of Liz. I can't think of a better epitaph. It is very sad but what she's left behind her is invaluable."

Charlie Condou - who played midwife Marcus Dent - wrote: "Vera Duckworth was classic Corrie. Liz Dawn was a wonderful woman. She will be truly missed. A true icon."

Shayne Ward wrote: "RIP Liz Dawn."

Corrie and Emmerdale star Chris Bisson wrote: "Very sad to hear the news that Liz Dawn has passed away. A wonderful person, amazing actress and total LEGEND! Keep smiling down on us Liz."

Emmerdale's Danny Miller wrote: "Devastated to hear about the passing of Liz Dawn. A beautiful soul. Inside and out. Rest in peace."

Tony Blackburn wrote: "So sorry to hear the news that Liz Dawn has passed away. Thanks for the hours of fun on Coronation Street you gave me RIP."

Allo Allo! star Vicki Michelle wrote: "RIP Liz Dawn a true #Corrie legend @itvcorrie @ITV Fabulous actress and loved by the nation. Sad news."