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Sunday 28 September 2014

Our final visit to the old Coronation Street set

Yesterday, blogger Sunny Jim (my husband) and I set the alarm clock for 5am (yes! 5 flaming ay-em!) for a very special day out. We were going on our final visit to the old Coronation Street set.  Now then, we live in the north-east, on the other side of the Pennines and what feels like a million miles away from Manchester, hence the early start. Armed with butties, off we set on the charra with a coach load of other early risers, all Coronation Street fans. And here we are, on the coach, on our way to Weatherfield via Manchester on the M62...

Now then. This is where I lay my cards on the table. Sunny Jim and I have been to the old Coronation Street set a few times before. We've been six times before, and two of those times we were very lucky indeed to have been on VIP guided tours while the set was closed to the public. I have also worked in the Granada TV building when I was invited into the Corrie press office to work on a book when I was a mature student in journalism.  But even though I knew that Granada TV no longer filmed there, or used the office block next to the old studio set, it still came as something of a sad shock to the system to find the Granada TV building unused and unloved.

Granada TV building as it is now (left) and as it once was (right).
However, even more of a surprise was finding the blue plaques dedicated to Coronation Street actors from the past still attached to the walls of the old Granada TV building entrance.

Our tickets to the Coronation Street tour were for the 11.50am tour.  We had approx. 20 minutes to wait so we wandered around the old site until our tour time was called. The workplace for Coronation Street cast and crew for decades is now a tourist attraction. And one we were happy to pay for and to experience as true, full-on Coronation Street fans. One of the many joys of the day was that we were with hundreds of other fans on that day, with each tour group accommodating what appeared to be around 20 people at a time.  Our tour guide was called Andrew, a really nice guy who kept us all entertained.

Photographs aren't allow inside what was Studio 1, so I have none of those to share here on the Coronation Street Blog. If you go on the Coronation Street tour (and I do hope you do...) you will see some of the old sets used for filming, some costumes, have a tour of where wardrobe was, where the green room was, and you're shown a film of highlights from over 50 years of Coronation Street.  It's all good stuff. We even got to see the inside of Martha Frasier's barge, a set I'd never seen before on Coronation Street, as well as Rita's latest wedding dress and Hayley's coffin.

If you want to, you can have your photograph taken behind the bar of the Rovers Return.  Then, with a flourish and the Corrie theme playing, we were ushered out onto the cobbles where you're free to walk around and take as many photos as you like. 

There's a cafe and a shop where you can buy Corrie merchandise and I even spotted posters advertising my book A Perfect Duet, the story of Roy and Hayley Cropper.

It was great, it really was and I recommend the Coronation Street Tour to every Corrie fan. I wanted to see it one last time before it gets demolished, as it surely will.  It might not be this month or this year but it will go, some time, and I wanted to see it before it went.

As a Coronation Street fan, the set has special memories for me. It has special memories for all Corrie fans and I urge you to visit, to see it one last time, before it goes.  Taking in those memories again brought a mixture of feelings - both happy and sad, to be honest. I felt the weight of history and the culture of Corrie when walking down the corridor that had the stars' dressing rooms on it, but clearly we weren't meant to linger there. I wanted to soak the history in, to breathe in that history and I did get goosebumps at that moment. But it was over too soon, we were ushered into what had been the wardrobe room.  The tour is great - and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

The set that once was a working home of the best television programme in the world is now a tourist attraction. That's good of course, but the magic has gone, for this fan. The magic now is now being made over at Media City. And that's as it should be.

Yesterday was a farewell to an old friend - and one that changed my life.  As we walked out of the tour the friendly tour guides gave us a cheery goodbye and thanked us for coming. I smiled and nodded but I couldn't say thank you back to them. I couldn't speak at all for fear or breaking into tears. 

Sunny Jim and I walked in silence from the old set to the canals in Castlefield, where Corrie has filmed some of its scenes in the past. We walked..  and then we talked and then we went and had lunch and raised a glass to Corrie's glorious past - and to its future.

See also:
Our blogger Ruth visits the old Coronation Street set
Our blogger Emma visits the old Coronation Street set
Our blogger Tvor visits the old Coronation Street set
Our blogger Llifon visits the old Coronation Street set

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Stevie said...

You just also brought me to tears! Thanks for sharing your journey with us x

Llifon said...

Glad you had a magical time! :)

Tvor said...

I've been on the set five times, including two inside the studios and each time it was special. The last time was the tour this spring and yes, I guess a little of the magic was gone because it was no longer used for filming. I don't know why that should feel thus, but perhaps because it had a museum feel which, of course, is what it is now. Anyway, I'm glad you were able to bask in those wonderful memories one last time! I do know how special it has been to both of you! x

bbhilda said...

I felt the same Flaming Nora. It had somewhat of a fake and phony feel to it, and I felt rushed through the places I wanted to linger. It's a great tour though, don't get me wrong, but as Tvor said, it has the feel of a museum now, you don't get that same feeling in the pit of your stomach.

You are right again when you say the magic is now at Media City. I could feel it when I was there, but the staff say it doesn't quite feel like home yet. They want their bits and bobs, their memorabilia brought over, which is being used for the tour at the moment, they feel once they have it all around them again, it will feel more like home. I hope it does.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Flaming Nora, for a wonderful description for those who have much further to travel than you lucky people already on the island. Nearly 24 hours travel from my large island, so your updates & reports are much appreciated. I visited Manchester in 1969 when my husband was a VIP with the crew constructing the M6(?), but no Corrie tours available then for this fan from the 60s.
Helen, from Australia

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Australia. Love your comments and loved your book on Roy & Hayley received last week.
Keep up the good work on the blogs. We are only a few weeks behind the UK now, but we still enjoy keeping up with the latest news.
Best regards from Cathy & Ian

Martin Leay said...

Thanks for this report... glad you both enjoyed it. When the developers move in and turn the old set into flats, bars and restaurants; they really should preserve a section (even if just a cobble or two) as a cultural heritage site, to commemorate all the magic that was created there over so many years.

Angie said...

Please, please come back and visit the tour soon, we have just got the Kabin set back plus we have opened up Websters Garage on the Street and you can pop into the kebab shop to take a photo of yourself at the counter, hope I get to be your tour guide, I bought your book from the shop a few months back, it's great x

Covid-19 said...

Do you have the pics for this article, please, which are not coming up? Thanks!


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