Friday, August 05, 2005

Archie Street - The Bulldozers Move In...

This little terrace, seen here derelict in 1971, was the inspiration for the original Coronation Street architecture.

Back in 1960, with the show in its planning stages, members of the production team toured areas of Manchester looking for a real street which would help them to visualise and bring their fictional street to life. They happened upon Archie Street in the Ordsall district, and the street served as a rough template for the original Coronation Street exterior set (which was built in the Granada TV studios).

Archie Street was also used for some opening title and end credit shots, a small amount of outdoor filming, and was
featured on the packaging of a series of early 1960s Coronation Street jigsaw puzzles. More

Archie Street was nicknamed "Coronarchie Street" by local inhabitants!

The heyday of the Victorian/Edwardian working class terraced house had apparently long gone by the start of the 1960s (however they became sought after again by the retro-loving "trendies" of the '70s), and many old streets in Manchester were swept away. The local council began moving the residents of Archie Street out in 1968, and the bulldozers arrived in 1971.

St Clement's Church, to the far left of the picture, remains and is still an integral part of the local community.

There is an Archie Street in Salford today, but it is not on the site of the original street, which now contains the modern houses of the St Clements Drive/Buckfield Avenue area.

Discovering the location of the original Archie Street took some detective work on my part. Surely it was on the site of the present day Archie Street in Salford? But I wasn't satisfied with that, having read in HV Kershaw's 1981 autobiography, The Street Where I Live, that Archie Street had been demolished to make way for high rise blocks of flats. There were none in the modern day Archie Street.

The discovery of St Clement's Church at the end of the street in the photograph provided me with the essential clue - was the church still there? It was, of course, and hey presto, the site of the original, inspirational Archie Street terrace was revealed - not, after all, occupied by high rise flats, although there are some not far away.

Incidently, the commercial property on the corner of the original Archie Street, used as a model for Coronation Street's corner shop, was actually an off-licence, and the street had another claim to fame: English footballer Eddie Colman, one of "Busby's Babes" who died in the 1958 Munich air crash, was born there.

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