Day 13 of our 50 day countdown of Coronation Street - written by blogger Sunny Jim.
In 1973 Len Fairclough bought Biddulph’s, a run-down newsagent cum café cum lending library at 16 Rosamund Street and installed his lover, Rita Littlewood as manager. Rita wasn’t much impressed by the place at first, calling it ‘a grotty little hole’ but was won round when the upstairs flat was thrown in as well. Rita wanted to call the place Rita’s but was overruled by Len who decided upon ‘The Kabin’. Rita soon realised that she couldn’t run the shop single-handed and despite suffering from a severe bout of hiccoughs during her interview, Mavis Riley was taken on as her assistant.
The following year, Len tried to sell The Kabin when he received an offer of £5000 from developer Douglas Wormold but when he’d originally bought the shop, he’d put it in Rita’s name and she refused to allow the sale to go through. In 1978 the café area was closed down after the authorities were alerted to its inadequate toilet facilities by Joe Dawson who was opening a café next door. Eventually the lending library became a record library, which in turn was closed down too when Alan Bradley persuaded Rita to let him run a video library instead.
In 1990 Rita closed down the Rosamund Street premises and relocated The Kabin to Coronation Street itself and moved into the flat above the shop. Two years later the business brought romance into her life when she was wooed by confectionery salesman Ted Sullivan. The pair married but the marriage was short-lived as Ted had a brain tumour and only had months to live. In 1999, Rita’s long-term foster daughter, Sharon Gaskill returned and in an attempt to keep her in Weatherfield, Rita gave her The Kabin, working there as her assistant. When Sharon was reunited with her fiancé, Ian Bentley, he forced her to sell the shop so they could buy a house together. Rita swallowed her pride and bought the shop back from Sharon for £40,000.
In 2000, Rita and her new assistant Norris Cole underwent training to open a sub post office. As Norris became more and more involved with the running of The Kabin, Rita agreed to him becoming a full partner in the business. In 2009 after the death of Norris’s brother Ramsay, Rita decided that life was too short to spend so much time working behind the counter of a backstreet newsagent and sold her remaining share to Norris who had been left £172,000 in his brother’s will. After going on a cruise, Rita returned to the Street and started working at The Kabin again.
Also in 1973: Elsie and Alan Howard move to Newcastle; Alf becomes mayor; Joanna Lumley appears as Elaine Perkins; Ken visits the twins in Scotland and returns with a wife; Tricia Hopkins makes her first appearance; Deirdre Hunt starts working at the builders’ yard; Mavis Riley starts dating Jerry Booth.