Rovers Return Inn


Rovers Return Inn

The Rovers Return Inn is a fictional public house on the long running British television soap, "Coronation Street".

The Rovers Return occupies the corner of Coronation Street and Rosamund Street. Since the first episode it has been the principal setting in the show and many of its most memorable moments have occurred there. It was originally owned by the equally-fictional brewery Newton and Ridley, but has been a "free house" since 1996, though the brewery continues to supply the pub. The Rovers Return has since been emulated by "EastEnders", "Emmerdale" and "Hollyoaks" who created the Queen Vic, the Woolpack and The Dog in the Pond respectively. The "soap pub" is thus seen as one of the clichés of British television.

History of the pub

The Rover's Return (with an apostrophe) was opened in 1902, on the newly built Coronation St (1902 being Coronation year for Edward VII, hence its name). It was originally to be called The Coronation, but the brewery was forced to change its name when the go-ahead had already been given for the street to be named Coronation Street.Little. (1993) p.8.] When Lieutenant Philip Ridley returned from active service in the Boer War, the pub was named in his honour. In 1918, to celebrate the return of the soldiers from World War I, the apostrophe was removed, thus making it The Rovers Return (plural+verb). When "Coronation Street" began in 1960, the signage of the pub read "The Rovers Return" but at some point was changed to read "Rovers Return Inn", without a "The".

Originally, the bar was divided into three separate bars; the public, the snug (usually inhabited by unaccompanied ladies where drinks were half a penny cheaper) and the select (where drinks were more expensive but were served by waitress service). [Little. (1993) p.90.] As late as 1960, the ruling in the pub was that ladies were not allowed to remain at the bar after being served. These archaic rules were dropped in the early 1960s. When the fire gutted the pub in 1986, the three bars were knocked into one large modern bar, however, the living quaters downstairs still bear no resembelence to the exterior of the pub. In reality, the living room (the "back room") would be in the middle of the street at the side of the pub, outside the Medical Centre. Since mid 2008, we have seen scenes in a kitchen/Dining Room in the upstairs of the pub (for use by the licencee/residents), although no other characters had ever used or referred to this room since the show started in 1960. [Little. (1993) p.91.] A mock-up of the Snug bar was a feature of the Granada Studios Tour.

If you look carefully at scenes filmed outside the pub, the doors to the pub are much thinner than the doors we see on the interior scenes. This has always been the case, to make the interior set bigger than the exterior building.

In early 2008 - after 22 years with the same look (since re-opening after the fire in 1986), the Rovers Return was re-vamped to bring it into the 21st century, including new wallpaper, re-upholstered seating, new flooring and new light fittings. A smoking shelter has also been built, which can be accessed by a new door in the main pub area. This door has never been seen on screen as yet (04/10/08).

Licensees

Jim Corbishley (1902-1919)

Salford grocer Jim Corbishley sold his shop for £40 to take over the newly-built pub in 1902, which he managed along with wife Nellie and son Charlie until 1919. He and Nellie retired after the passing of Charlie, who was fatally injured at the Battle of the Somme.

George Diggins (1919-1937)

In July 1919, George Diggins took over the Rovers Return. He and his wife Mary had no children, but a dog that slept in a beer barrel basket under the counter. His wife Mary ensured for the first time that women could be served in the Public as well as the Snug. They later retired to Southport.

Jack and Annie Walker (1937-1983)

(Arthur Leslie and Doris Speed)Jack and Annie moved into the Rovers on 4 February 1937. During World War II Jack was away from the pub for some time on army duty, leaving Annie to run things by herself.

The pair were considered very different. Jack, a broad, northern speaking man (the phrase "Eeee Annie" heard on many occasion), was no different from his customers, whilst Annie was a snobbish, "well spoken" lady. Despite this, the pair were inseparable until Jack's untimely death in 1970 whilst on holiday. (This was due to the sudden death of Arthur Leslie offscreen).

Considered by many to be the best landlady of them all, Annie Walker held the reins at the Rovers for 46 years. Her sometimes vicious snobbishness often alienated her from her customers and she ran the pub with class and stood no nonsense. [Little. (1993) p.19.] Behind her mask of a hard landlady, Annie was a very vulnerable person. In 1975 she was held up in her bedroom by two young thieves. After refusing to reveal where she kept her money, they fled, receiving a beating in the yard courtesy of Ray Langton and Len Fairclough. Though calm throughout, this ordeal caused Annie to collapse later. The brewery had heard rumours that she was becoming an absentee landlady, something which she had always feared. [Little. (1993) p.142.] She did not like to feel detached from her duties and was always free to speak to customers and develop friendships with the staff, in particular Bet Lynch and Betty Turpin.

She continued her tenancy until 1983, before passing the baton to her son Billy.

Billy Walker (1983-1984)

(Ken Farrington)

Wayward son of Annie, Billy Walker first appeared in Coronation Street in January 1961, but took over at the Rovers in 1983 after his mother retired as landlady. It didn't last long however, and he left for good in 1984 after a series of run ins with police due to the lock-ins held after hours.

Bet and Alec Gilroy (1985-1995)

(Julie Goodyear and Roy Barraclough)

Arguably the most famous barmaid on "Coronation Street", Bet Lynch was in charge of the Rovers for a little over ten years. The brewery, Newton and Ridley, unhappy with the way the pub was being run into the ground by Billy Walker's wayward behaviour, made him an offer he couldn't refuse for the licence. The post of manager was advertised, and Bet applied, despite the fact that she thought she had little chance as the brewery normally favoured married couples. She was astounded, however, to be told by Dame Sarah Ridley that the 'regulars' at the pub had signed a petition insisting she be given the job. She became the brewery's first single manageress and the first ever manageress of the Rovers. She was almost immediately put under threat as the Rovers caught fire in 1986. She was saved by a combination of Kevin Webster and the fire brigade. She maintained an intriguing love/hate friendship with Alec Gilroy, who ran the bar next door to the Rovers, The Graffiti Club. Bet, however, was never the best businesswoman and soon got into debt. Unable to cope, she fled to Spain, and Alec bought the licence of the Rovers. Tracking her down to Spain, Alec proposed - that way, he argued, she could have the Rovers back. She agreed, reasoning to herself that Alec Gilroy was the only man who tried to charm her without pretending to love her. They were married a year later on 9 September.

Bet had given birth to a son, Martin, when aged 16 in 1956. She gave him up for adoption. In 1975, as a successful soldier based in Northern Ireland, he tracked down his mother "Elizabeth". Disgusted by Bet's common and lewd behaviour with the 'regulars', he stormed out of the pub without even telling her who he was. When a soldier friend of his visited Bet to give her the tragic news that he had been killed in a car crash, Bet was heartbroken - "The only decent thing a fellar ever gave me... and now even that's been taken away from me."

Contemplating suicide, she was talked out of it by Eddie Yates, whose kindness and willingness to listen made her realise that life was still worth living.

Alec had baggage of his own, a daughter, Sandra. Once again, ironically, Sandra and her husband met the same fate as Martin in 1991, leaving their 15-year-old daughter Vicky distraught and orphaned. Vicky moved in with her grandfather at the Rovers, before leaving after a disastrous relationship with bad-boy Steve McDonald.

Eventually, Bet and Alec parted ways. Alec left for a dream job in Southampton, and Bet ran the pub herself until 1995 when Newton & Ridley decided to sell the Rovers as they were selling off their smaller pubs to focus on their larger, more profitable pubs. Bet unfortunately could not come up with the money to purchase the pub, and thus would probably lose her job and livelihood under new ownership. She asked her long-time friend Rita Sullivan to become business partners however she refused and this led to a blazing row between the two. Name-calling and dredged up memories were flung between the two, and the fight ended their friendship permanently. Bet then turned to Vicky, who was now married to Steve McDonald. She was also unwilling to invest, and her offer to buy a house for Bet to rent out just infuriated her. She threw Vicky out of the Rovers and, in a rage, threw everyone out of the Rovers in the middle of a busy afternoon session. Bet, now with no friends and soon to have no pub, promptly packed her bags and called herself a taxi. After a last look an Annie's photo, Bet climbed into the taxi and, after one last look at the pub where she had lived and worked for decades, left the Street.

Jack and Vera Duckworth (1995-1998)

(Elizabeth Dawn and William Tarmey)

Newton & Ridley put the Rovers up for sale. Possible owners were the Duckworths, and Jim & Liz McDonald. Liz had run the Queens Pub in 1993 for the company. Though they had lived through financial hardship for much of their lives, Jack came into a large inheritance gained from the death of Jack's brother Cliff and sister-in-law Elsie in a car crash. Combined with the money made from selling No. 9, Jack and Vera had the cash ahead of the McDonalds and were allowed to buy the pub. As Jack had a criminal record, Vera was made the licensee. For Vera, who always had elevated ideas of her own status, she had finally made something of her life.

Her happiness was short-lived when in 1997 they discovered they owed £17,000 in taxes and were forced to take on Alec Gilroy, who had returned from Southampton, as a business partner who allowed them to continue living in the Rovers and stay on as members of staff. When Natalie Horrocks took over the pub a year later, she evicted the Duckworths and they ended up running a friend's B&B instead.

Natalie Barnes (1998-2000)

(Denise Welch)

Natalie raised her own standards by her purchase of the Rovers. Known for interfering in the Webster's marriage, she was one of the street's typical sirens.

Her reign was also short lived. A month after their marriage, husband Des Barnes was murdered by thugs in search of Natalie's son. She fell unexpectedly pregnant and left both the pub and Weatherfield in search of a new life.

Fred Elliott, Mike Baldwin and Duggie Ferguson (2001-2006)

(John Savident, Johnny Briggs and John Bowe)

Natalie put the pub up for sale when she left. However, the interested party was a pub chain called "Boozy Newt". Fearing that they were about to lose part of their local heritage, the above consortium of businessmen put together the £75,000 needed to buy the pub.

Duggie was the only one with previous experience as a landlord, and was left doing the lion's share of the day to day running, the other two simply reaping the profits. He devised a plan that resulted in Fred and Mike selling their share to "Hamilton Griffiths Holdings", only for Duggie to reveal that he was the man behind this company. He now took full control of the Rovers.

Duggie Ferguson

(John Bowe)

Duggie's time in charge was short-lived however, deciding to buy Weatherfield Rugby League and Social Club, Duggie being a former Rugby League player. The resulting auction caused a massive bidding war between barmaids such as Geena Gregory and Shelley Unwin. However, Fred Elliot came back and stumped them all with his bid, acting on the wishes of his new wife, Eve Elliot.

Eve and Fred Elliott

(Melanie Kilburn and John Savident)

As a couple, their time in charge was short, with Fred discovering that Eve had in fact committed bigamy by marrying him. Eve left Fred for her husband Ray Sykes, but had no legal claim to the Rovers as all documents called her "Eve Elliot", which was not her name, given that the marriage had never occurred. Fred thus became the sole licencee.

Fred Elliott

(John Savident)

The local butcher, Fred was never really interested in running a pub, although he would frequently help out. Thus Shelly Unwin became the first manageress of the Rovers since Bet in 1985. However, following a nervous breakdown, Shelly became agoraphobic. Her inablitity to leave her bedroom seriously compromised her ability to the run the pub although she eventually recovered, returning it to relative stability. In September 2006, Fred planned to move away with his soon-to-be wife Bev Unwin and agreed to sell the pub to Steve and Liz McDonald. However Fred died shortly after agreeing to the sale, and nothing had been finalised on paper and the pub now legally belonged to Fred's son Ashley. Liz began to worry that the pub was slipping out of her hands again, and was relieved when Ashley, who did not have the time or the interest for running the Rovers, honoured the conditions of the sale, allowing Liz to fulfill a long-time dream of running the Rovers Return.

Liz McDonald (2006- )

(Beverley Callard)

For years, Liz had worked at the pub on and off. She dreamed of buying it at one point with her then-husband, Jim. Her dream finally came true when Landlord Fred Elliott put the pub up for sale. After her son, Steve, looked through the books and paid the money, Liz became the landlady. She also owns part of the Rovers.

Current employees

Current residents

Incidents

Martha's death, 1964

Episode 357, transmitted: 13 May 1964

In 1964, the producership of "Coronation Street" was handed to young, enthusiastic Tim Aspinall. He immediately began to ring changes. Since it had been fully networked across the various ITV regions in 1961, "Coronation Street" had never been out of the top ten ratings of the week (incredibly, that continues to this day, 47 years on). However, competition came from the BBC (there were only two channels in those days, BBC Television and ITV - BBC 2 was to follow later that year). The BBC placed their most popular comedy series such as "Steptoe and Son" opposite the programme. In those pre-video recorder days, viewers were forced to chose what to watch, and, as a consequence, "Coronation Street" began to lose the ratings war. It was decided, by Aspinall, that several 'blockbuster' storylines would have to be staged, the most radical being the death of Martha Longhurst.

Despite being a nosy old gossip and, in the Mancunian dialect of the show was "... no better than she should be....", Martha was a highly popular character; thus she was chosen to be killed off in a highly cynical bid to boost the ratings.

On the night of her death, the residents were gathered in the Rovers, singing songs and celebrating Frank Barlow's £5000 win on the Premium Bonds. Martha, on her way to Spain the next day, had been showing off her new passport, of which she was very proud. She began to feel faint and retreated to the Snug, away from the singing punters, all in tune with Ena Sharples on piano.

Feeling flushed she undid her top button, pushed off her beret, clutched her chest and collapsed onto the table. The regulars, with the impression she was drunk came to see what was going on. Upon inspection Len Fairclough pronounced her dead. She had suffered a fatal heart attack at the table she had frequented for years. The punters left, leaving only the Walkers, lifelong friend Ena and the late Martha Longhurst.

Violet Carson, a highly accomplished pianist (she had played the piano on the BBC's long-running "Children's Hour") kept her back to the camera as she played the song "Down At The Old Bull and Bush" as she was so upset by the storyline and didn't want the camera to see her tears.

That night saw the credits roll in silence for the very first time (something that would later become the norm whenever a character was 'killed off'), with the rooftop scene replaced by a close of the snug table which contained a sherry glass, a passport and Martha's famous NHS spectacles.

Since that day, the Street has changed and producers have since emulated Aspinall's ruthlessness, fully aware of the valuable publicity and ratings increase such events could create.

Lorry crash, 1979

Episode 1893, transmitted: 7 March 1979

Deirdre Langton wheeled her young daughter Tracy down to the Rovers in her pram. She was to see Annie Walker with regards to a knitting pattern. Knowing Annie's strict rules concerning children on licensed premises, Tracy was left outside in her push chair.

No more than two minutes had passed as Deirdre and Annie spoke in the back room. Suddenly, their conversation was halted by screeching of breaks followed by a terrible crash, which shook the pub. Annie froze but Deirdre rushed through the pub and outside where she had left Tracy. In that very spot was a 6 foot pile of timber. Accompanying the pile was a lorry, turned on its side and smoking from the crash. Deirdre hysterically pulled away at the wood screaming for Tracy.Inside the pub, Alf Roberts had been sitting with friend, Len Fairclough in front of the window. Alf lay unconscious as Len, whose own arm was broken, desperately tried to help him.

Ken Barlow, having rushed across from the community centre, took control. Having realised the driver was dead, he began to help the distraught Deirdre who was still frantically clawing at the timber. Once the police had taken charge, and Deirdre had been taken away to be comforted by Emily Bishop and Ena Sharples, the timber was eventually cleared from the shattered pub.

The story was concluded when Tracy was found not to be under the timber, but had been snatched away moments before the pub was hit. The snatcher was a crazed young woman called Sally who had become obsessed with Tracy. Mother and daughter were re-united later by the canal as Tracy was rushed to the arms of Deirdre. For Alf Roberts, the scars remained and he underwent a personality change months after he returned from hospital.

The fire, 1986

Episode 2631, Transmitted: 18 June 1986

During a sing-a-long night, when the guests stood around the piano, the lights in the pub had been flickering and cutting out all night. Much to the frustration of Bet and the rest of the punters. Jack Duckworth, potman at the time, decided to fix the problem. Upon return, he was graciously thanked for solving the problem. However, he had replaced the fuse with a far stronger one, leaving the problem of a potential explosion.... Bet retired to bed that night, having locked up. In the middle of the night, the inevitable happened, and the fuse caught fire.

Young couple Kevin and Sally were returning from a rock concert in the early hours. Noticing the smoke billowing out from under the Rovers door, Sally alerted Kevin. The street came alive as residents Percy Sugden and Terry Duckworth offered a helping hand. Kevin acquired a ladder with the help of Percy and was able to reach the bedroom window.

Inside, Bet had found her exit down the stairs blocked by flames that leapt up at her from the hallway. She let out a gut wrenching scream and crawled back into the bedroom, vomiting up the smoke that had congealed in her stomach. (Actress Julie Goodyear says that her night dress caught fire during filming the scene, and she was in genuine danger - "I can assure you, the scream at the top of the stairs is a genuine one.") She collapsed, overcome from the smoke.

Kevin had smashed his way through the window with a brick. Shouting to the rest of the residents that he could see her, he climbed in. Down below the front windows of the Rovers blew out into the street, sending shocked residents running. As Kevin dragged Bet to the window, the Fire Brigade arrived to take over.

Bet was saved as heroic Kevin was led home, refusing to be taken to hospital. Vera Duckworth had sarcastically suggested that the cause had been Bet smoking in bed, though Jack knew who was to blame. As Bet was led away in the ambulance she joked "Can you give me a minute, love, give me time to put my face on...?"

Breaking with convention, the episode ended not with Bet fighting for her life, which would have been the usual soap opera cliché, but the pub itself, which Newton and Ridley thought was not worth saving and intended to demolish.

Once the Rovers was renovated and refurbished, Bet pinned an electrician's number up on the board telling Jack to call upon the services of a professional, as they had the Rovers back, and she intended on keeping it.

Ray Langton's death, 2005

In 2005, Ray Langton returned to Coronation Street, where he died. His death was the second death in the history of Coronation Street to take place inside the Rovers.

Dylan's Birth, February 2008

In February 2008, barmaid Violet Wilson gave birth in the pub to Dylan who was fathered by gay barman Sean Tully. Landlady Liz McDonald, Eileen Grimshaw and Vernon Tomlin were present at the birth. Sean's boyfriend, Marcus Dent delivered the baby.

The Cellar, 2008

Episode 6834, Transmitted: 6 June 2008In June 2008, Steve McDonald and Dan Mason became engaged in a petty feud. Steve believed that Dan scratched his car which resulted in Steve stealing Dan's mobile phone. At closing time, Dan went to the pub to confront Steve. He ended up hitting Steve by accident to which he hit Dan back with a crate Steve threw the mobile down the cellar stairs. Dan went down to get it and Steve closed the door locking Dan in. The pain from the crate was unbearable for Dan so much that he keeled over in agony on the stairs. Steve, however had left and never heard his shouting for help. The next day, Michelle Connor found Dan and he was rushed to hospital. Steve was arrested for attempted murder and unlawful imprisonment.

References

*Little, Daran. "Life and Times at the Rovers Return", Boxtree, 1993. (ISBN 3-5791-0864-2)

ee also

List of businesses in Weatherfield

External links

* [http://www.corrie.net/profiles/places/rovers/rovers1.htm Corrie.net - The Changing Face Of The Rovers Return]
* [http://www.corrie.net/profiles/places/rovers/rovers2.htm Corrie.net - THE ROVERS RETURN: A brief history]


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