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Friday, 20 April 2018

Welcome to Wider Weatherfield

Victoria Street, the new extended exterior set of Coronation Street, makes its debut on our screens this evening, Friday the 20th of April. My friend and fellow blogger Michael and I were there for the very special unveiling on the 12th of March, and I thought I'd bring you all the news, facts and figures from the people at Corrie about the latest addition to the world of Weatherfield, accompanied by some of my photos from the day of the big reveal.


For years the area surrounding the terraced houses, Rovers Return, corner shop, cafe and newsagents has existed only in the viewers’ imagination, but from May fans will be able see what life is like beyond the cobbles of Britain’s most famous street.

Months of planning and building has resulted in a fantastic new retail area complete with shops, eateries, an urban garden, Weatherfield North tram stop and a police station.

A specially commissioned, mosaic covered, memorial bench will have pride of place in the urban garden in memory of Coronation Street superfan Martyn Hett, and all those who lost their lives in the Manchester Arena bomb in May 2017. Martyn’s family were the first people to see the new set during a private visit and were present at the unveiling.

In a nod to the soap’s 57 year history the road on the new set is made from cobbles reclaimed from the old Quay Street site which was home to the residents of Coronation Street from 1982 to 2013

‘Wider Weatherfield’ will be seen on screen for the first time tonight, Friday 20th April.

A continuation of the 1999 addition of Victoria Street, which is home to the kebab shop, Roy's Rolls, Community Centre, Victoria Court and the builders yard, the new set took over three years to develop from original drawings to completion.

The entire area has been aged to look as though it has been there for as long as Coronation Street and Rosamund Street.

With the show now transmitting six episodes a week the new set gives more filming options on the Trafford Wharf Road site, reducing to some degree the need to go out on location. 

Product placement deals mean that for the first time real retail outlets will be represented on the set in the shape of Costa Coffee and a Co-op.

Round the corner from the main area is a modern two storey police station which will eventually have a reception, cells, corridors and interview rooms. A Nuttalls brewery building houses a production construction workshop, utilising the large interior space.

Kate Oates, Series Producer, said: “The Victoria Street extension represents an exciting chapter in Corrie history: an amazing new stage, full of dramatic potential. Our amazingly talented design team have created everything from scratch - but it still manages to have the feeling of always having been there, just around the corner.”

1960 - 2018 The story of the cobbles:

1960-68 - Interior studio Street set

When Coronation Street began in December 1960 the Street itself was represented by a set erected in the studios at Granada Television which was in reality just a frontage, less than normal scale and had the pavement and cobblestones painted on the studio floor. The viaduct at the Corner Shop end was no more than a scenic backdrop.

1968-69 - Wooden studio flats erected on Grape Street

In 1968 the first exterior set was erected in Grape Street behind Granada's studios - the street had the added advantage of in-situ cobblestones and a railway viaduct. The wooden studio set was erected there and first seen on screen in May 1968.

1970-82 - Brick facades on Grape Street

Eighteen months later with the advent of colour television it was necessary to build a brick set to replace the wooden one. It remained as a frontage for two years before the back yards and ginnel were added in 1972.

1982-2013 - New full brick Street

In 1981 a decision was taken to build a large scale set with proper roofs and a segment of Rosamund Street. A former railway marshalling yard was purchased by Granada on the other side of the bonded warehouse once again with existing cobbles. Building began in November 1981 and on May 5th 1982 the new set was officially opened by the Queen and Prince Philip.

1999 - Victoria Street part 1

In 1999 the exterior set was again extended and updated. The derelict Graffiti Club on Rosamund Street was revamped and reopened as a Medical Centre. A new street, Victoria Street, was built to house several shops, including Roys Rolls, and two houses. The Builder’s Yard was built on the other side of this street. The last scenes were shot there on December 20th 2013.

2014-now - Trafford Wharf Road (TWR) Street set

In January 2014 filming began in the new state of the art studios and set on Trafford Wharf Road, Trafford, across the canal from MediaCityUK, which took two years to build and replicate the old set. The opportunity was taken at this stage to widen the street so vehicles could pass each other and to add another window to the front of the Rovers Return. Three years later work would begin on extending the exterior lot and expanding Weatherfield.

Source material 

2018 - Welcome to wider Weatherfield - Victoria Street part 2

Coronation St Head of Design Rosie Mullins-Hoyle explains how the set was brought to life:

  • Many hours were spent surveying, photographing and researching local Salford and Manchester architecture. There were also national searches of interesting buildings from further afield. Thousands of reference pictures were collated.
  • The first drawings were hand draughted and produced within the first 6 months of moving to the TWR site back in 2014.
  • A cardboard and 3D computer model was created in the process to check every angle of the set before it was built.
  • The ITV design team to date has consisted of over 40 people. From scenic artists to specialist prop makers and graphic designers we have called upon a wide range of skills and knowledge.
  • Reclaimed items were used wherever possible for it to look authentic and believable. From the use of reclaimed common bricks, reclaimed slates, railings, gates, metal work & tiles to name but a few. Sustainability was also important using responsibly sourced timbers, reclamation yards, recycled props etc.
  • The excellent bricklayers were asked for their ‘worst bricklaying!’ The bricks needed to protrude and be uneven and chipped. It goes against everything they are trained to do but the results are fantastic and characterful.
  • The handles on the doors of the tram station are actually the original Rovers door handles. They were removed after the fire in 2013 and kept safely waiting for the right opportunity to use them again.
  • Within the park a memorial bench to Martyn Hett and the 21 other bomb victims is of particular importance. We wanted to create a beautiful and colourful tribute for those who so sadly lost their lives last year. The bench was created by one of our joiners and then Dan Taylor, one of our scenic Artists designed the mural. Artist Ruth Wilkinson was commissioned to bring the design to life in a mosaic.
  • There is a central feature ‘Wishing well’ Cornus Mas tree which will add some colour throughout the year. The tree is associated with people writing their wishes and hanging them onto the branches.
  • It is ultimately about trying to create a history and backstory to an area we have not yet seen.

2018 - Build facts and figures

A project that has been 18 months in the planning has taken a little over 8 months in construction to build our new part of Weatherfield.

The Victoria Street extension has taken a workforce of almost 1000 people.

A total of 150,000 working hours have gone into creating our 'perfectly imperfect' street extension.

The extension is held together using 6,500 tonnes of concrete, 2,500 tonnes of stone, 200,000 bricks and brick slips, 350 tonnes of tarmac.

Most importantly 7000 reclaimed cobbles from the original Coronation Street set have been laid on Victoria Street.

Published by Emma Hynes
Twitter: @ELHynes
Facebook: @EmmaHynesWrites
Instagram: emmalouhynes

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