Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Corrie A-Z: C is for the Corner Shop (Part 1: 1960-1980)

With thanks to Daran Little’s Coronation Street: Around the Houses for all the info on the history of the Corner Shop prior to 1960.
 
For many years, the Corner Shop was a staple in every Corrie episode, where characters were seen talking and gossiping about goings-on in the street. And the shopkeeper had an integral part in the community: be it Florrie Lindley back in the early 1960s or Alf Roberts in the 1980s. But in recent years, the Corner Shop has lost its status and has dwindled into extinction, apart from the odd scene here and there.
 
At one time, the Corner Shop played a vital role in many episodes. Indeed, it played the central role in the very first episode back in December 1960 when Elsie Lappin handed the business over to Florrie Lindley after 30 years. It was through Florrie’s eyes that we met the characters as they came to the shop to introduce themselves to the new shopkeeper.
 
Prior to Coronation Street’s on-screen debut in 1960, the corner shop had proprietors since 1902. The first owners were Cedric and Lottie Thwaite who ran the shop until 1915. The Foyle family (including Tommy, Amelia, Lil, Elsie, Hilda and Shelagh) ran the shop from 1930 to 1947. Elsie, and her husband Les Lappin, bought the shop in 1947. Les died in 1952 and Elsie continued behind the counter until she sold the shop to Florrie Lindley in 1960.
 
Let’s take a closer look at who was behind the counter between 1960 and 1980:
 
Florrie Lindley 1960-1965
 
Florrie was a typical shopkeeper: a kind, caring and compassionate soul. During her stint behind the counter she installed a new window and doorway and opened a sub-post office. Irma Ogden became her assistant in 1964. But loneliness ate away at Florrie and led her to have a nervous breakdown and she wrecked the shop. In 1965, estranged hubby Norman re-entered her life and persuaded Florrie to join him in Canada. She agreed and sold the shop to Lionel Petty.
 
Lionel Petty 1965-1966
 
Petty was an ex-Army officer and ran the shop in an efficient but military way and his approach towards the customers was a stark contrast to Florrie. Even assistant Irma stayed off work to avoid him and when he was short towards Ena Sharples many of the residents boycotted the shop. As well as Irma, his daughter Sandra worked behind the counter as did Dennis Tanner. After only a few months, Lionel sold up the shop and returned to his native Wales.
 
David and Irma Barlow 1966-1968
 
Petty sold the shop to young married couple David and Irma. The first thing the Barlows did was close the sub-post office that had been in the shop since 1964 but in recent months had become unprofitable. They settled into shop life and were popular with residents. But within a few months Irma had grown bored and left the shop to work as a machinist at the PVC factory while mother Hilda took up the job of shop assistant, to David’s chagrin. Irma soon returned the shop and life was good until 1968 when David craved for a return to his football career. And when he was offered a place in an Australian team, he persuaded Irma that they should immigrate and sold the shop.

 
Les Clegg 1968-1970, Maggie Clegg 1968-1974, Irma Barlow 1970-1972 and Gordon Clegg 1974-1976
 
The Cleggs bought the shop as a new start due to Les’ alcoholism and a chance for him to stay sober. They arrived on the street with their ‘son’ Gordon. They were happy for two months before Les fell off the wagon and assaulted Maggie and thus ended their marriage. Needing help, Maggie took on Ena Sharples and Valerie Barlow as her assistants. Maggie’s overbearing sister Betty Turpin arrived on the street in 1969 to help her sister out but Maggie persuaded her to get a job as a barmaid at the Rovers. Valerie left her post as assistant at the end of 1969 when she got a job at Alan Howard’s hair salon. In 1970, Les and Maggie divorced and Maggie was given the shop in the settlement. Soon after, a widowed Irma returned from Australia and entered into a partnership with Maggie. As a result, Ena left her post as shop assistant. Hilda helped out now and again; Janet Reid was briefly an assistant in 1971 and Lucille Hewitt from late 1971 to early 1972. Irma sold her share to Maggie and moved to Llandudno in 1972.
 
Maggie was now the sole owner of the shop and took on Norma Ford as her assistant who stayed until the end of 1973. In 1974, Maggie appreciated the help of Alf Roberts. When he proposed, she rejected stating she only saw him as a good friend. But within a few weeks she married Ron Cooke and they immigrated to Zaire. Maggie passed the shop on to Gordon but when he clashed with Betty, he left for London and rented the shop to Welsh couple Idris and Vera Hopkins who moved to the shop with their daughter Tricia and Idris’ mother Megan. But they had a short stay when Megan found out that Betty was Gordon’s real mother and tried to blackmail Gordon into selling the shop to them at a lower price. Gordon had been told that Betty was his mother by Maggie when she visited in early 1975. As a result, the Hopkins were evicted and left in a midnight flit. Gordon did let Tricia stay in the shop flat with her best mate Gail Potter and they ran the shop until mid-1975 when Blanche Hunt took the reins with the young girls her assistants. When Blanche left the street in early 1976, Tricia and Gail took care of the shop. As Gordon was in London, it was Betty who looked after the shop’s financial side and reported to Gordon of any problems. In mid-1976, Gordon sold the shop to Renee Bradshaw.
 
Renee Bradshaw/Roberts 1976-1980
 
Renee took over the shop to be closer to her brother Terry. She soon sacked Tricia and Gail for being terrible assistants and Tricia left the area. Renee soon applied for an off-licence and waged a war against publican Annie Walker and won. Bet Lynch moves in as a flat tenant and Renee becomes her confidante. Alf Roberts romances Renee and they marry in 1978. When Alf is injured when a lorry ploughs into the Rovers, he retires from the GPO to help Renee at the shop. In 1980, the Roberts decided to sell the shop and move to run a sub-post office in Grange-over-Sands. But on the way from Grange, Renee is killed in a lorry-crash collision. Alf decides to stay put on the street and continue behind the counter.
 

To be continued...


 
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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Awesome, can't wait for part 2! Love your post, it is always interesting! Wish you would post more!

Llifon said...

Hi Anonymous!

Thank you for your kind words. They're always encouraging. Due to uni work, I've not been able to contribute as much as I'd like. But I'm quite content on this A-Z feature atm. Maybe, over the summer months, I'll be blogging more, but who knows?

And it was by chance that I began doing the weekly polls as well, due to a commenter asking if it would be possible to do such a feature. So, that was a nice surprise! I do like to respond to commenters feedback or ideas. I want them to enjoy reading the blog.

I'm honoured to be a part of such a great blog team who, like me, are passionate for Corrie! There you go, Oscar speech over! :P

Barrie.T said...

I started watching corrie in 1980, my first memory is the lorry crash involving Alf & Renee. I loved seeing Bet Lynch coming down for breakfast in the back room of Alf's shop. Half undressed, bee-hive all to cock and cigerette hanging from her mouth.

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