Golden anniversary...and the first of many a Corrie rover’s returns

ICONIC: Members of the Coronation Street cast on the beach
ICONIC: Members of the Coronation Street cast on the beach

“IT had to happen, of course. The neighbours of Coronation Street were destined one day to leave their mark on Blackpool. And today was the day they did it.”

“IT had to happen, of course. The neighbours of Coronation Street were destined one day to leave their mark on Blackpool. And today was the day they did it.”

So ran the news on Saturday May 13, 1961, as 14 members of the cast of what The Gazette described as “the Granada television serial” came to Blackpool to film shots for the street’s Whit Monday day trip storyline.

In the first of many visits over the decades, what we now refer to affectionately as Britain’s favourite TV soap, was really breaking new ground almost exactly 50 years ago, as a coachload of actors, producers and cameramen left Manchester at 7.15am ready to begin filming in the Tower building at 9am.

First stop was the Tower Circus Zoo, where Lucille Hewitt, played by Jennifer Moss, aimed nuts at a co-operative monkey.

Then the three regulars of the Rovers Return, Ena Sharples (Violet Carson), Martha Longhurst (Lynne Carol) and Minnie Caldwell (Margot Bryant) made the trip to the top of the Tower.

Ironically, although Violet Carson lived in Fleetwood Road, Bispham, and Lynne Carol in Clinton Avenue, Blackpool, Margot Bryant was the only one of the trio who had made the ascent before. That was in real life, of course.

As trippers from Coronation Street, these ladies, along with the others in the cast did, according to the report, “exactly what every other visitors does, even to eating candy floss and wearing comic hats”.

The Gazette even captured the visit in a cartoon, suggesting that battleaxe Ena was more than a match for the Tower lion!

As well as the Tower, the storyline took the soap stars to the Golden Mile, inside Louis Tussaud’s (where today there is a dedicated Corrie zone) and the Pleasure Beach.

They also had their famous paddle in the sea, with the Tower in the background, an image which has become synonymous with having a fun time in Blackpool.

The latest visit, screened earlier this month, was not such a happy time, with Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson) and Tracy Barlow (Blackpool and the Fylde College-trained Kate Ford) searching for missing daughter Amy (Elle Mulvaney).