It’s half a century since Archie Street, the Salford model for Granada’s Coronation Street, was reduced to a pile of rubble.
Much-loved Street characters Stan and Hilda Ogden, played by Jean Alexander and Bernard Youens, made a final visit there in August 1971 just before the wrecking ball moved in.
There was a tear in Hilda’s eye as she stared through broken windows in deserted homes that had once been the bedrock of an Ordsall community.
Manchester United footballer Eddie Colman was born at No. 9 Archie Street in November 1936 – and team-mate Bobby Charlton remembers spending Christmas Day there.
Coronation Street creator Tony Warren picked out Archie Street as the template for his new TV series when he was driving round Salford with designer Denis Parkin in Autumn 1960.
He wanted the drama to be gritty and down-to-earth – based on real people’s lives.
Archie Street, built in the 1880s, had everything he needed. Well, almost everything as there was no pub. Warren would have to invent the Rovers Return as the focal point of his drama.
Like Coronation Street, Archie Street had its own corner shop at one end but with a church at the other – St Clements which still stands today. On TV, the Weatherfield church would become St Mary’s.
The real St Clements appeared in the programme’s title sequence and end credits as the camera panned from a high vantage point on Manchester Ship Canal dock buildings.
The church also formed the setting for the TV wedding of builder Jerry Booth (Graham Haberfield) and shopaholic Myra Dickinson (Susan Jameson) in October 1963.
There was no mission hall or Underworld clothing factory on Archie Street, but there were two rows of terraced houses numbered in the opposite direction to the Coronation Street set.
Archie Street’s double-bay windows became single bays on the set, originally constructed entirely inside Studio Two in Granada’s cramped Quay Street buildings. Cobblestones were painted on the studio floor.
With the set complete, Coronation Street broadcast its first episode on December 9th 1960. Elements of Archie Street had been immortalised in soap history.
Due to its association with the TV series, Archie Street became known as Coronarchie Street – especially when members of the cast came to visit.
As well as Jean Alexander and Bernard Youens, Doris Speed (Rovers’ landlady Annie Walker) and Betty Alberge (Florrie Lindley) called at Archie Street in 1961. Tony Warren visited too, meeting up with the area’s MP Frank Allaun.
Sometimes the attention proved too much for the Archie Street residents as they were plagued by tourists and sightseers as Coronation Street’s popularity grew.
Coachloads of holidaymakers arrived at Easter and even visiting football fans made a detour to the street after watching their teams play in Manchester.
Archie Street had strong football connections in its own right. Manchester United wing half Eddie Colman was born there, the only child of railway worker Richard Colman and his wife Elizabeth.
After joining United’s youth team in 1952, Colman broke into manager Matt Busby’s first team in the 1955-6 season. Alongside him were the precociously talented Duncan Edwards and a young Bobby Charlton.
The Red Devils, or Busby Babes as they became known, were First Division champions that season and repeated the feat in the subsequent 1956-7 campaign. They also reached the FA Cup final but lost 2-1 to Aston Villa.
Colman made 108 appearances for United, scoring two goals, before losing his life in the Munich air crash of February 6th 1958. He was the youngest of the 23 people to die, aged just 21 years and three months.
His name has been commemorated in Eddie Colman Court – one of the accommodation blocks at the University of Salford.
Archie Street has been called the ‘spiritual home’ of the Busby Babes as the front parlour of the Colmans’ house played host to Duncan Edwards and other United players on Saturday nights.
Bobby Charlton enjoyed Christmas Day celebrations at No. 9. Family, friends and neighbours all gathered there and jugs of beer were brought round from the off licence at the corner shop.
Manchester United were no doubt an inspiration for the youngsters kicking a ball around the Archie Street cobblestones in our photos from June 1967.
Residents moved out of Archie Street in 1968 and it remained derelict until demolition in 1971.
Nothing is left of Archie Street now, although St Clement’s Church is still standing. The north-west end of St Clement’s Drive now occupies the Archie Street site.
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