Wednesday, 22 October 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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