Sunday, 27 May 2018

Fan review: The new Coronation Street Tour #CorrieTour (Part 1 of 2)


Our friend Paul Lanagan at @CorrieArt writes a two-part blog post for us here at the Coronation Street Blog about his recent visit to the new Coronation Street Tour. Paul was one of the first fans to visit the new Corrie Tour, and he was also one the last fan to visit the old Corrie Tour at Quay Street.

Here we go with Part One of Paul's blog post:

"Good morning and welcome to the new Coronation Street Tour. Did any of you go on the old tour at Quay Street?"  

Did I go on the old tour? Once or twice... or maybe half a dozen times. What kind of Corrie fan wouldn't go and visit those hallowed cobbles? 


Following Coronation Street's 50th anniversary in 2010, plans were soon unveiled to relocate the Corrie Studios from Quay Street to MediaCityUK in nearby Trafford with an all-singing, all-dancing, full scale replica of the famous street. Exciting times. The new facility and outdoor filming lot was finished in late 2013 and first appeared on screen in March 2014 but the old one wasn't simply left to rot - Corrie viewers around the world were given the chance to visit the original cobbled street when Continuum Attractions teamed up with ITV and launched the Coronation Street Tour. 

Between 2014 and 2015, thousands of fans descended on old Weatherfield and 32,759 tours took place around the vacant Corrie houses. Fans were led through the studios by a team of fantastic Tour Guides and were allowed to view the old Green Room, dressing rooms, rare props and interior sets inside Stage 1 (hidden behind the viaduct) before emerging from Nick's Bistro for a free-rein look around the cobbled streets.  Rosamund Street Medical Centre housed a bustling gift shop selling a huge range of Corrie merchandise, including a sumptuously illustrated guide book, chocolates, knick-knicks and printed photographs of the guests who posed inside the Rovers interior set.  This set was put to good use by Continuum who also offered VIP Tours where guests could have a glass of bubbly and be allowed to take photographs while on the studio tour (something not normally offered).  Late night pub quizzes also took place and a lot of fun was had by all. 

All good things must come to an end, however, and with the prospect of intercity redevelopment looming over the chimney pots of Coronation Street and Granada Studios, the Corrie Tour was scheduled to run its last tour on December 31st 2015 much to the disappointment of the fans.


With this in mind, I booked my ticket and was determined to be the last ever visitor on the Corrie Tour before seeing in the new year in Manchester city centre.  New Year's Eve 2015 was a miserable day: it was cold and bleak and aptly dreary for a goodbye visit and many of my photographs taken on the old lot show that: it was looking sad and tired, a bit like a stale hot pot, but to me, and fans alike, it was a special place no matter how it looked. 


The Coronation Street Tour attraction was due to close at 6:30 pm and I morosely hung around the houses reflecting on the iconic characters who had treaded the paths around me.  I also stood remembering my many visits over the past two years including my first visit when I refused to go into the studio and went straight on to the Street for fear of "spoiling the magic" plus a subsequent poignant visit when I called in after having paid my respects at Anne Kirkbride's memorial service in Manchester Cathedral in May 2015.

I also remembered the many friendly faces I had met including one of Corrie's most passionate fans, Glaswegian Brian Altman, who has become a good friend on Twitter. I also got to know Jonny Grimshaw, a Corrie background artist and Tour guide, who kindly took my specially created piece of artwork, "Goodbye Corrie Tour", for all the other guides to sign. Jonny, to my knowledge, was the only member of staff to work on both Corrie lots at the same time – but in two different capacities.  I often wondered what would happen if he got confused and went to the wrong Coronation Street!

I was soon brought out of my teary day dreaming when I became aware that it was closing time and the Tour Guides were keen to clock-off for their own goodbye party.  It was clear that some other Corrie fans were vying to be the last ever visitors as, like myself, they were lingering on the cobbles. A plan of action worthy of Pat Phelan was required! I strutted up the Street with a confident air and made a sharp turn at Dev’s Corner Shop, onto Viaduct Street and the tour exit gate.  My rivals had assumed I'd left and were following suit - the plan was working!  I galloped down the ginnel and emerged at the side of the Rovers Return where I peeked up the Street: said gullible rivals had gone!  After a few goodbyes to the patient tour guides and a couple of last minute photographs, I walked up Coronation Street for the last time and as the last ever visitor to the Coronation Street Tour. 

It was a sad victory.

Time moves forward, six episodes a week are now broadcast and the Quay Street lot was left to deteriorate with photographs shared by pesky urban explorers (see #GoodbyeQuayStreet on Twitter).  The bulldozers moved in and the fall of the Rovers was captured for all to see in the pages of the Manchester Evening News.  The rubble soon piled up as the site was cleared.... but one thing was strangely missing from the ruinous piles: those hallowed cobbles.

BY PAUL LANAGAN @CORRIEART

Read Part Two of Paul's blog post about his visit as one of the first fans to the new Corrie Tour

National Holidays are offering a package which includes a ticket to the Coronation Street set, an overnight stay in a hotel - with dinner and breakfast included - and an excursion to Liverpool, all from £99.  If you're interested in learning more, here's the link.

Fancy writing a guest blog post for us? All details here!   



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1 comment:

Aussie Pete said...

Lovely Part 1 Paul, I look forward to reading Part 2.
I’ve still got my pic of the Tour Art you sent me with all of our signatures on it. ☺️

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