The pub is located at the corner of Coronation Street and Rosamund Street and was first opened in 1902, part of a chain of Weatherfield pubs owned by brewery Newton & Ridley. The brewery sold the Rovers in 1995 and since then it has been a free house, although Newton & Ridley continue to supply the pub's ale.
The alcohol licence is currently held by Johnny and Jenny Connor who run the Rovers as its landlords. Peter Barlow and Toyah Battersby were the landlords of the pub before Johnny and Jenny bought the establishment, but in June 2018 however, Peter and Toyah broke up and decided to sell up. Stella Price purchased the pub outright from Steve McDonald in 2012, but Liz and Steve bought the pub back the following year. The current tenants are Johnny and Jenny. Previous landlords have included Jack and Annie Walker, Bet and Alec Gilroy, Jack and Vera Duckworth and Natalie Barnes. Other notable staff include Betty Williams, barmaid at the Rovers for forty-three years from 1969 to 2012 and cook behind the pub's popular hotpot dish.
The Rovers is particularly popular with the residents of Coronation Street, and virtually all who live or work in the Street frequent the pub. As a focal point of the community, it has often hosted or sponsored community events and for many years its Select function room was used for variety shows and concerts. The Select was part of the original layout of the Rovers which also comprised the Public bar and the Snug, but after the pub was damaged by a fire in 1986, the Rovers was modernised, with the Snug and Select removed and the Public expanded.
- 1 Licensees and management history
- 1.1 1902-1918: Jim and Nellie Corbishley
- 1.2 1918-1937: George and Mary Diggins
- 1.3 1937-1970: Jack and Annie Walker
- 1.4 1970-1984: Annie Walker
- 1.5 1984: Billy Walker
- 1.6 1985-1995: Bet and Alec Gilroy
- 1.7 1995-1998: Jack and Vera Duckworth, with Alec Gilroy
- 1.8 1998-2000: Natalie Barnes
- 1.9 2000-2006: Fred Elliott, with Duggie Ferguson and Mike Baldwin
- 1.10 2006-2011: Steve and Liz McDonald
- 1.11 2011-2013: Stella and Gloria Price
- 1.12 2013-2017: Steve McDonald, Liz McDonald and Michelle Connor
- 1.13 2017-2018: Peter Barlow and Toyah Battersby
- 1.14 2018-present: Johnny and Jenny Connor
- 2 Layout
- 3 Pub regulars and community
- 4 Staff
- 5 Residents
- 6 Background information
- 7 External links
Licensees and management history
1902-1918: Jim and Nellie Corbishley
The Rovers Return was built along with the houses of Coronation Street in 1902. Coronation Street was to stand adjacent to Rosamund Street, the main thoroughfare into Manchester, with the pub's location opposite Hardcastle's Mill making it an attractive investment for brewery Newton, Ridley & Oakes. The new pub was named The Rover's Return (note the apostrophe) in honour of Lt. Philip Ridley, in celebration of his safe homecoming from the Boer War.
The Rover's was officially opened by brewery officials on 16th August 1902, a week after the residents had moved into the Street's houses. The first pints were poured by mill owner Charles Hardcastle and Mabel Grimshaw, who inherited the Street after the passing of Sir Humphrey Swinton.
Former grocery shop owner Jim Corbishley was the first licensee of the Rover's. From 1902 to 1918, Jim ran the pub with his wife Nellie, with their son Charlie taking on the position of potman. When the Great War began in 1914, Jim was deemed too old to sign up and so he remained at the Rover's while Charlie left for France, and died in 1916 from injuries sustained on the Somme. After Charlie's death, the Corbishleys were a broken family and Jim eventually gave up the tenancy, fearing that the return of the men who had survived the war would be too great an emotional strain on Nellie.
1918-1937: George and Mary Diggins
Retired police sergeant George Diggins took over the licence and the tenancy with his wife Mary following the departure of the Corbishleys. It was around this time that Lt. Philip Ridley had the apostrophe removed from the name of the pub, feeling that the repatriation of all who had fought for the country in the Great War should be celebrated.
George and Mary had no children but Mary had a dog who lived in a basket made out of a beer barrel. When any beer was spilt on the floor, he would lap it up. The Diggins saw the Rovers through the Depression and fared much better than their out of work neighbours, although takings suffered when George enlisted as a policeman and stood against his friends during a march on the Town Hall, resulting in a boycott of the pub. The issue was resolved when George resigned from police work and stood alongside his neighbours, thereby earning their respect.
1937-1970: Jack and Annie Walker
Newlyweds Jack and Annie Walker bought the tenancy in 1937 and Jack became the new licensee, shortly before the birth of their son Billy. Jack came from a family of publicans and was happy to take on the Rovers and raise a family there, while Annie saw it as a stepping stone to an area with more enlightened clientele.
The beginning of World War II in 1939 dashed Annie's hopes of a short stay, as when Jack received his call-up papers and signed up, Annie was left to run the Rovers herself while taking care of Billy and their second child, Joan, born in 1940. On his return, Jack settled back into civilian life, full of enthusiasm for his job, a marked contrast to Annie's weariness after six years of running the operation single-handedly or with the help of shady men who hadn't enlisted.
In 1954, Annie finally persuaded Jack that they should take on a Cheshire pub, but found to her dismay that even she was considered too common by patrons there. Annie resigned herself to a life in Weatherfield and concentrated her efforts on improving the Rovers and ensuring her children received the best education. By 1961, both Billy and Joan had moved away, and the Walkers considered retiring when a rumour that Coronation Street was going to be demolished did the rounds. Annie took a step back by hiring Martha Longhurst and later Hilda Ogden as a cleaner, and occupied her free time by running for Councillor in 1966 and becoming a member of the Licensed Victuallers Association. Also that year, the Rovers was granted a music licence and the Walkers hired Alf Chadwick as a regular pianist in the Select.
In 1964, Jack and Annie took in fifteen-year-old Lucille Hewitt when her father Harry Hewitt and stepmother Concepta moved to Ireland, as the Walkers and Hewitts were close friends and Lucille wanted to finish her schooling in Weatherfield. Lucille became like another daughter to the Walkers and continued to live there even after leaving school.
1970-1984: Annie Walker
Despite passing retirement age, Annie was more in control of the pub than ever. Her sometimes vicious snobbishness often alienated her customers and she ran the pub with class and stood no nonsense. She was supported by barmaids Betty Turpin and Bet Lynch, with Billy Walker occasionally lending a hand despite favouring a career as a car mechanic. Annie had friends in top positions within Newton & Ridley although others with the brewery expressed concern about her age and ability. In 1972, Billy was offered the pub behind Annie's back. While he declined, Annie felt betrayed that the offer had been made in the first place. The following year, she decided to retire and move in with Joan in Derby but changed her mind when the brewery told her that they had received a petition, signed by most of the regulars, which campaigned for her to stay on.
In 1975, Billy moved to Jersey, and with Lucille also having moved away, Annie was left alone at the pub. The brewery was alerted to Annie's living conditions when two thugs, Neil Foxall and Les Grimes, broke into the Rovers and raided it while Annie was in bed. Warren Coates was sent by Newton & Ridley to deliver the news to Annie that she had been given a pub in Cheshire, which would be quieter and more to her liking. Annie saw Coates off by contacting Douglas Cresswell, a senior brewery official and close friend of Annie's, and having the motion cancelled. The incident persuaded her to take on a live-in potman and in 1976 she employed Fred Gee in the position.
A significant incident involving the Rovers occurred in 1979 when a lorry overturned outside the pub and its load of timber crashed through the front of the building, causing significant damage and injuring Mike Baldwin and Alf Roberts who were sitting at a table next to the window. Young Tracy Langton was thought to be buried by the pile of timber as she had been left in her pram outside the pub while Deirdre Langton spoke to Annie inside, but fortunately baby and pram had been taken away by Sally Norton moments before the crash. The brewery repaired the damage to the pub and things soon returned to normal.
1984: Billy Walker
In 1983, Annie took time off to visit Joan and the following year decided not to return. The brewery appointed Fred Gee as temporary manager but he was replaced by Billy Walker, who had been persuaded by Annie to take on the licence to keep the Rovers in the family. Unfortunately, Billy's heart was never in it and he had only accepted the brewery's offer for the money. Debt had always followed Billy and his troubles continued when he became the landlord, with him paying gamblings debts with money from the till and getting into trouble with the brewery for selling supermarket ale. When he was caught by the police selling alcohol after hours, Billy realised that he would never cut it as a pub landlord and asked the brewery to buy him out. Billy left the Rovers in December 1984, thus ending the forty-seven year reign of the Walker family at the pub.
1985-1995: Bet and Alec Gilroy
Bet Lynch had been a barmaid at the Rovers since 1970 and was popular with the regulars. Following Billy's departure, they persuaded her to apply for the management, in competition with Gordon Lewis, who had managed the pub in 1981 while Annie was on holiday and replaced the entire staff. Bet knew that the regulars liked the Rovers the way it was and that Gordon and his promise of big changes wasn't what they wanted but still didn't think she would get the job as the brewery preferred married couples and were unlikely to pick a woman to run it alone. However Bet got a massive surprise, when it was revealed by Sarah Ridley herself that the regulars had signed a petition demanding that she be appointed manager. The brewery officials were convinced that Bet was the best choice for the job and appointed her as manager over Gordon. Bet's first year-and-a-half as manager went relatively smoothly, save for an incident in September when she went on a last-minute cruise with a new boyfriend and neglected to inform the brewery. Betty was left with no other bar staff and was forced to call Newton & Ridley to send her some help. George Newton was annoyed that Bet had left the brewery in the lurch and placed Betty in charge. When Bet returned she found Jack Duckworth and Gloria Todd, both of whom she'd previously dismissed, working in the Rovers with Betty as the new manager. Bet apologised to George Newton, however the brewery was now beginning to doubt that Bet was cut out to be manager and he placed her on probation. Two months later, Newton visited the pub one morning to tell Bet she was off probation but as bad luck would have it Bet had spent the previous night in a hotel and not yet returned. Following a mad dash to the hotel and back by Terry Duckworth and a lot of stalling by Gloria they managed to get Bet back before Newton became suspicious and saved her job.
In June 1986, as the regulars enjoyed a singalong around the piano, the lights began to flicker and Bet had potman Jack Duckworth go down to the cellar and replace the fuse, however Jack made the mistake of replacing it with a stronger one, causing a fire to start in the early hours of the next morning. The fire quickly spread through the pub and trapped Bet upstairs. Noticing the fire, the neighbours came to her rescue while they waited on the fire brigade. The fire was put out but the Rovers was so badly damaged that Newton & Ridley briefly decided it wasn't worth saving. Bet was later assured by brewery official George Newton that the pub would be renovated and reopened within months. The refurbishment included a significant modernisation of the pub by removing the Snug and Select function room. The Rovers was reopened in August, with long-serving cleaner Hilda Ogden performing the opening ceremony, and Bet remaining as manager.
The following year, the brewery decided that they wanted to sell the tenancy at the Rovers and offered Bet first refusal. Bet was interested but knew she wouldn't be able to raise the £15,000 soon enough for Newton & Ridley and turned to club owner Alec Gilroy for a loan. Bet and Alec had dated before but Alec had broken off their relationship after realising that Bet believed his real interest to be the Rovers itself and not her, which wasn't the case. They had however remained friends and Alec agreed to loan Bet the £15,000, but even with a repayment scheme Bet struggled to stay afloat financially and, in a panic, she fled to Torremolinos, leaving Alec and the brewery in the lurch. Alec convinced the brewery to allow him to mind the Rovers in order to watch his investment but his prime interest was to track Bet down. After three months with no word, Bet finally contacted the brewery. Alec flew straight out to find her working as a waitress. When he saw how much the Rovers meant to Bet, Alec offered to marry her so that she could remain landlady, with Alec taking on the licence. Bet agreed and they were married.
When Deirdre Barlow decided to sell 1 Coronation Street in 1990, Newton & Ridley put down an offer on the house, as it was next door to the Rovers and they saw the potential of expanding the pub. Bet and Alec soon got wind of plans by Nigel Ridley to turn the Rovers into an American-style bar called Yankees and knew it wasn't for them. Neighbours petitioned the brewery to keep the Rovers the way it was but their pleas were ignored and the Gilroys, deciding to make a stand against the brewery, locked the pub and refused to leave. Their cause attracted some local publicity but eventually the brewery reclaimed the pub and evicted them. Fortunately, Alec's friend in the brewery, Cecil Newton, came out of retirement to put a stop to the plans, announcing that the Rovers would always be a working man's pub.
In 1992, Alec was offered a job as entertainments manager on a cruise ship. He persuaded Bet that they should move to Southampton and take the job; he had given Bet five years of running her own pub, now they had a chance for real success and he wasn't going to turn it down. After convincing Newton & Ridley to buy back the tenancy the couple got ready for the move but at the last minute, Bet realised she couldn't leave the Rovers and got permission from the brewery to remain as manager. Alec was appalled at Bet's selfishness and went to Southampton alone, declaring their marriage to be over.
The brewery agreed to allow Bet to continue as manageress and all was well until 1995 when Newton & Ridley decided to sell up again; but now they weren't just selling the tenancy but the pub itself. Bet was given first refusal for £68,000 but she knew she had no chance of raising the money herself. She turned to her friend Rita Sullivan asking her to be a partner, and although Rita was initially interested in the idea she quickly realised that Bet's idea of a partnership was 'you buy it, I'll run it' and turned her down. Bet then turned to her step-granddaughter Vicky McDonald for a loan, but Vicky knew that Bet would never be able to pay her back and refused. Her last chance gone, and realising that she was soon to be homeless and jobless, Bet decided to leave the pub and Weatherfield there and then. She threw everyone out of the pub, called a taxi and left the street, calling the brewery the next day to tender her resignation.
1995-1998: Jack and Vera Duckworth, with Alec Gilroy
With Bet gone, the pub was quickly put on the market. Jim and Liz McDonald, having often dreamed of owning their own pub (the Rovers in particular) put their house on the market with the intention of buying the Rovers. However another interested party were Jack and Vera Duckworth. Jack had recently come into a large inheritance and the Duckworths had already been trying to sell their house. In the end, it was a case of whichever couple could come up with the money first. With the house soon sold to the Malletts, the Duckworths pipped the McDonalds to the post and bought the Rovers. As Jack had a criminal record, Vera was made the licensee.
Owning her own pub was something of a dream come true for Vera, with her name going above the door one of her proudest moments, however the Duckworths were bad at business and quite workshy and after a couple of years started to struggle to keep the pub going. In 1997, the Duckworths found they had a VAT bill for £17,000. Sensing an opportunity, Alec Gilroy (who had recently returned to the area) paid Jack £20,000 for a 50% share of the Rovers so that Jack could pay the VAT bill. Unfortunately, Alec and the Duckworths had a poor business relationship and the following year Alec decided he wanted out of the partnership, paying Jack £30,000 for the remaining 50% of the pub and agreeing to Jack's condition that the Duckworths were allowed to keep on living and working there. In the coming months, their working relationship deteriorated further and Alec decided to go back on the deal by sacking and evicting them. When they found out about Alec's plans, the Duckworths refused to be moved and waited for him to back down. While Alec pondered his next move, his granddaughter Vicky re-entered his life and he suggested they go into partnership at her new wine bar in Brighton. Alec sold the Rovers to Natalie Barnes and moved on.
1998-2000: Natalie Barnes
Widow Natalie liked the Rovers as it reminded her of her late husband Des Barnes, who was a regular there. Unfortunately for the Duckworths, Natalie wished to live in the Rovers herself (as she had to sell her house to buy the pub) and therefore had them both quickly kicked out. Natalie was mostly known to the street's residents as the woman who had broken up the Kevin and Sally Webster's previously happy marriage, however she ran the Rovers well and the residents soon warmed up to her.
After two years, Natalie found she was pregnant by former potman Vinny Sorrell and, as Vinny had cheated on her before running off with her sister, decided to sell the Rovers and move, as she didn't want to be a single mother with a pub. Her intention was to sell the Rovers to the Boozy Chain, who wanted to turn it into a theme pub called The Boozy Newt, but the locals objected and local businessmen Mike Baldwin, Fred Elliott and Duggie Ferguson formed a partnership and put in an offer which Natalie accepted, saving the pub in its current form.
2000-2006: Fred Elliott, with Duggie Ferguson and Mike Baldwin
Although the three held equal shares in the Rovers, most of the day-to-day work fell to Duggie as Mike focused on his Underworld factory and Fred owned Elliott & Son butcher's shop in Victoria Street, and both saw the Rovers as a low priority. Their biggest initiative was to change the Rovers into a family pub but it quickly emerged as a failure as the children, particularly David Platt, annoyed the staff.
Duggie soon grew tired of his partners reaping the benefits of his work and decided to trick them into selling their shares to him; he convinced them to sell to Hamilton Griffiths Holdings for £18,000 each, before revealing that as the key investor of Hamilton Griffiths, he was now the 100% shareholder of the Rovers. He ran the pub until December 2001 when he decided to buy the lease on the bar at Weatherfield Rugby Club and auction the Rovers. Fred Elliott put in the highest bid with £76,000 and took over the pub, with his wife Eve taking over the licence.
Another change occurred in 2002 when Fred discovered that Eve had married him bigamously. Eve tried to hold onto the pub but she had no legal claim over it as the documents were in the name of Eve Elliott. As before, Fred wanted to focus on his Butcher Shop and help out at the Rovers only occasionally, and so appointed a manageress in the form of Lillian Spencer. However Lillian quickly turned out to be a bad choice, as she didn't get along with the regulars, had a mutual dislike of the current staff, sacked Jack Duckworth (claiming his ill health and age made him a liability) and employed her (work-shy) children. However, just as staff morale was at an all-time low, a better job offer came up causing Lillian and her family quickly packed and left. Fred then turned to barmaid Shelley Unwin, who was happy to take on the job.
Shelley was sometimes helped by her mother Bev Unwin and in 2006 Bev and Fred fell in love and decided to marry, sell the Rovers and move away. Fred agreed to sell to Steve McDonald but Fred died of a massive stroke before the deal could be finalised. Bev didn't want Steve to have the pub but as she hadn't yet married Fred she was left nothing in his will; legal ownership of the Rovers fell to Fred's son Ashley Peacock, who decided to honour Fred's agreement with Steve.
2006-2011: Steve and Liz McDonald
Liz McDonald had worked at the Rovers on and off since 1990 and in 1993 had managed The Queens. After Liz and Jim's failed attempt to buy the Rovers in 1995, Liz was thrilled to finally become the licensee, with son Steve balancing work between his Street Cars taxi firm and the Rovers.
Liz and Steve often found it difficult to live under the same roof; in 2007 Liz married Vernon Tomlin, and they fought for space in the living quarters with Steve and his girlfriend Michelle Connor, Michelle's son Ryan and Steve's daughter Amy Barlow. By the end of 2008, Liz's marriage to Vernon was over and he moved out. Steve's relationship with Michelle collapsed when he had an affair with Becky Granger, and Michelle and Ryan moved out. In 2009, Steve married Becky, who Liz didn't like at first but later warmed to. Becky suffered two miscarriages and was told that she would never have a child. Steve and Becky applied to adopt a child but were turned down on the basis of a reference from Becky's half-sister Kylie Turner.
In August 2010, Becky brought Kylie and her son Max to live with them. Kylie proved a selfish and disruptive influence, and eventually left after selling Max to Steve and Becky. April 2011 saw Kylie become a permanent fixture on the Street when she married David Platt. What with this and Tracy Barlow constantly breathing down their necks, Steve and Becky's marriage broke down, and Becky blamed Steve when Max was taken off them by Social Services. Liz by this point was back with ex-husband Jim once more, and saw this as her chance to at last to own the pub outright. Raising enough capital proved to be difficult however, despite Jim saying otherwise.
Not wanting to let Liz and Steve down, Jim resorted to drastic measures in order to buy the Rovers by robbing a bank. This ultimately backfired however and Jim was arrested and sent to prison for a third time. Liz was heartbroken. Rather than staying put and putting a brave face on it, Liz did one final shift at the pub before locking up for one last time. Full of mixed emotions as she thought about her time spent in both the Rovers and the Street itself, Liz climbed into a taxi with her suitcase and headed off to the airport to go to fly to Spain and live with her other son, Andy.
Following Liz's departure, Steve advertised for a manager and took on Stella Price, who also became licensee and moved into the living quarters with her partner Karl Munro and her daughter Eva. As his recent troubles had left him almost penniless and having tired of running the Rovers, Steve sold the pub to Stella and Karl outright and concentrated on his other business, Street Cars.
2011-2013: Stella and Gloria Price
Soon after arriving at the Rovers, Stella revealed her true motives for taking on the job: her daughter was Leanne Barlow, who she had abandoned as a baby, to much regret. Over a few months, Leanne came to accept Stella as her mother and when her marriage to Peter Barlow broke down, Leanne also moved into the Rovers. Stella kept on Steve's staff, including Betty Williams, who passed away aged 92 in 2012.
Stella's easygoing and friendly nature quickly won over the regulars and staff, and she proved to be a popular landlady. When she discovered that Karl was having an affair with Sunita Alahan, she kicked him out and became the sole owner of the pub. After this, everything ran smoothly for Stella until September 2012 when her mother Gloria arrived and took over the running of the pub (without having being asked). Unlike Stella, Gloria was bossy and managed to get on the wrong side of some of the pub's regulars. In March 2013, determined to split up Stella and Jason Grimshaw and win Stella back, Karl started a fire in the cellar in an attempt to make it look like Jason's repairs had caused it. The resulting fire nearly killed Stella, who unbeknown to Karl was in the bath upstairs, and claimed the life of firefighter Toni Griffiths, as well as gutting the pub. Sunita Alahan was also caught in the fire, having been left to die there by Karl. To guarantee her silence, Karl disconnected her life-support machine in hospital.
While Owen Armstrong carried out the repairs and restoration of the Rovers, Stella found herself unable to meet the cost as the insurance company refused to pay out. She was rescued by Gloria, who paid off Owen with Eric Babbage's inheritance money, also buying into the Rovers, and on 26th May the pub re-opened. The layout of the public area was retained but additional windows with stained glass were inserted into the building.
After Karl was found out to be behind Sunita's murder in September 2013 and was arrested, Stella decided to sell up as she couldn't cope any more. Steve put in an offer, and she left a month later.
2013-2017: Steve McDonald, Liz McDonald and Michelle Connor
Steve regained control of the pub again in October 2013 and bought it from Stella who wanted to start fresh. Michelle however wasn't too pleased as he hadn't told her first, but she was eventually won round and was willing to give it a go. However Liz returned to the street, after investing money into the business when offered by Steve.
2017-2018: Peter Barlow and Toyah Battersby
After Liz McDonald signed over the papers to Peter Barlow and his girlfriend Toyah in July 2017, she went to work at the Rosamund Street Medical Centre, although she went onto to do shifts at the pub as a barmaid.
Peter and Toyah made several attempts to improve the pub, such as introducing a bed and breakfast, however they scrapped the idea after their first guest conned Toyah's stepsister (and Peter's ex-wife) Leanne. Following Leanne losing her money, she along with Peter's son Simon moved in with Peter and Toyah at the pub.
In June 2018, Peter and Toyah broke up after Toyah confessed to colluding with Eva to lie about the parentage of Susie Price and together they decided to sell the pub and move on.
2018-present: Johnny and Jenny Connor
Johnny and Jenny Connor are the current owners of the pub.
The main entrance to the Rovers is in Coronation Street, on the corner of Rosamund Street. Entry is through a set of double doors in a shallow alcove, with a sign identifying the pub as The Rovers Return on the wall to the immediate right of the doors. Above the door is the licensee sign, containing the full name of the current holder of the drinks licence, although one exception occurred in 2002: a signwriter mistakenly put "Betty Williams" on the new sign instead of "Elizabeth Williams", and he had in fact written the name of the wrong person - Eve Elliott's name was supposed to be put above the door.
To the left of the doors are two sets of bay windows with frosted glass. Above them is a large sign bearing the name Rovers Return Inn and the name of brewery Newton & Ridley on the left and right sides of the sign. The colour scheme of the pub has always been green, with the overhead sign, the window frames and doors all bearing the colour.
The entrance of the pub has remained virtually unchanged since 1960, even after incidents including Stuart Draper crashing his car into the Rovers and smashing the door in 1974 and the lorry crash of 1979 which saw piles of timber penetrate the interior of the pub. The entrance retained its original design even after the renovation of the Rovers following the June 1986 fire.
The area immediately in front of the pub was usually always kept clear but for a short time in 1969 tables and chairs were put there by landlady Annie Walker, in an attempt to give the Rovers a Parisian feel.
Another entrance, usually used by tenants or private guests, lies behind the pub, with a door opening into the private quarters.
- Some early episodes imply another entrance through the Snug, while others refer to the usual entrance as the back door. For the purposes of this Wiki, these instances are treated as apocryphal, as later episodes firmly establish the usual entrance as being the main entrance to the pub, and the only one used by drinkers.
The Public was the largest of the three bars, and was where most patrons drank. The bar itself was located in the Public and all other areas of the establishment could be accessed from there. Until the First World War, only men could be served in the Public but landlady Nellie Corbishley changed the rules and opened it to women as most of the men had signed up and Nellie saw no point in having the Public empty when the Snug was full.
The room contained individual iron tables and wooden chairs for seating and, until the 1950s, spittoons on the floor, which were removed at the behest of landlady Annie Walker, who also oversaw the replacement of the sawdust with floor tiles. From the wall immediately on the right as one entered the pub, which contained doors to the gents and ladies lavatories (and access to the cellar through the door to the gents), the area for public access formed a reverse L-shape, with the bar taking up the rest of the room. The Snug and Select bars were accessed through doors on the left wall. There was also a dart board on the wall adjacent to the right wall, at the rear of the bars, and a piano which was used on special occasions.
- Another early episode anachronism was the existence of a fireplace facing the bar.
The bar itself was accessed through a bar flap or from the private quarters to the rear. Until 1964, a cupboard stood in the middle of the floor behind the bar, making it difficult for staff to move around. Even as late as 1961, a sign at the bar instructed women not to remain at the bar after being served - a rule which Annie Walker even enforced on occasion.
Annie was keen for the Rovers to be regularly redecorated and in 1968 paid for the decorations, which included removing the bar pumps (new bar pumps would not be installed until 1993). Further decorating work was carried out in 1969, 1973, 1977 and 1983.
After the damage sustained in the 1986 fire, the interior of the pub received major renovation work, with the biggest change being the removal of the Snug and Select, the three bars knocked into one large one. Annie had proposed such an idea in 1961 but backed down when Jack opposed the idea.
The new layout was effectively a larger version of the old Public bar, with the main difference being the introduction of three upholstered seating areas and a greater number of tables and chairs. The bar remained in the same place as before while additions included a snack counter in the spot formerly occupied by the dart board, with darts now played on the opposite corner of the pub. Another addition was a fruit machine, a typical feature of most pubs of the time. For the first few years after 1986, a piano was also a regular fixture of the new saloon bar.
A consequence of the loss of the Select function room was that any events which were held in the Rovers had to take place in the cramped space of the new look bar. While there was usually enough room to accommodate parties such as a drag night in 2001 (with a pop music theme), the pub was only just big enough to play host to larger scale events including Ivy and Don Brennan's wedding reception in 1988 and a performance of pantomime Cinderella at Christmas 2009.
The Rovers was infrequently decorated during this period, with the 1986 decor remaining until 2008 when Vernon Tomlin, husband of licensee Liz McDonald, initiated minor redesign work, including new wallpaper, re-upholstered seating, new flooring and new light fittings. A smoking shelter was also built in the yard, with the wall to the right of the bar knocked down so that patrons could access it through a door, as smoking had been outlawed in public places in England in 2007. The wallpaper was changed again later that year.
- The January 2008 redecorating work was seen prominently in the programme but the new wallpaper first seen in October 2008 was introduced with no publicity and no on-screen reference was made to the change.
Another re-decoration followed the 2013 fire. This re-decoration kept the previous layout and colour scheme, with only minor changes.
The Snug was a small rectangular room with access to the bar. In the early years it was the only area of the pub where women could be served, and even after the rule was changed women, especially older ones, continued to drink there. When the Rovers opened, drinks in the Snug were a halfpenny cheaper than in the Public.
For many years, the table closest to the bar was the domain of pensioners Ena Sharples, Minnie Caldwell and Martha Longhurst, who enjoyed gossiping in their own private sanctuary. Each even had their own preferred seating position: Ena facing away from the bar, with Martha on her left and Minnie her right.
In 1964, Martha had a heart attack in the Snug and died, her head slumped on the table at which she had consumed so much milk stout over the years. Her death occurred during a party celebrating Frank Barlow's win on Premium Bonds. Eleven years later, Ena convinced Betty Turpin that she had seen Martha's ghost when she heard a strange voice coming from the Snug and found a pair of glasses which were the same as the style Martha wore, but the mystery was apparently solved when a customer claimed them.
The Snug was removed in the renovation following the 1986 fire.
The Select bar was a large room accessed through a corridor leading from the Public. It was originally intended as a place where more distinguished clientele could drink. Beverages were served by waiters and drinks were a halfpenny more expensive than in the Public. The Select was barely used until landlords George and Mary Diggins put a stage in it and organised monthly attractions for entertainment. For a time in the 1920s, the Rovers was known for putting on a good show, with a particular highlight being a concert celebrating the birth of the future Queen Elizabeth II in April 1926.
By the 1960s, the Select was generally used as a function room for parties and wedding receptions. Annie Walker went to great lengths to make the Rovers a desirable place for newlyweds of the Street to hold receptions and was affronted whenever regulars chose to hold them somewhere else. Other events celebrated there included Stan and Hilda Ogden's 25th and later 40th wedding anniversaries, a Christmas concert in 1969, a '40s show on Christmas Day 1972 and a cabaret in 1973, with the women performing in drag. In 1973, relief manager Glyn Thomas tried to draw customers into the Select by hiring a regular organist, Renee Delafonte, and a pop band to sing, as he had designs on the Rovers and was out to impress the brewery.
A door in the Public bar leads off to the gents and ladies lavatories. Before the 1986 renovation, they were accessed through different doors, with the door to the gents opening to a corridor containing the door to the cellar.
The cellar is where the beer barrels and crates are kept. It is the potman's responsibility to organise the cellar and keep the bar topped up. It is usually accessed through a door in the Public but a rarely-used trapdoor behind the bar also leads to the cellar.
Cellar duties were usually carried out by the landlord but following Jack Walker's death, Annie didn't hire a regular potman until an incident in March 1976, where Albert Tatlock and Stan Ogden were locked in the cellar overnight and helped themselves to free drinks, getting blind drunk in the process. Fred Gee was given a job shortly thereafter although he often complained that the steps in the cellar weren't well maintained, and in 1982 he fell down them and was rendered unconscious.
Jack Duckworth was potman at the Rovers from 1985 until he and Vera lost the pub in 1998. His biggest blunder came in 1986 when he replaced the fuse with a much stronger fuse, starting the fire which gutted the pub. Fortunately, as it started in the cellar it took longer to spread. In 2013, the second Rovers fire was also started in the cellar, this time deliberately by Karl Munro.
In 2008, Dan Mason was locked in the cellar after falling and rupturing his spleen during a fight with landlord Steve McDonald. Steve locked Dan in the cellar for a laugh but didn't realise he had hurt himself. Dan was rushed to hospital the next day and Steve was arrested for attempted murder and unlawful imprisonment, but Dan agreed to drop the charges after a talk with Steve.
Perhaps the biggest discovery in the cellar was Annie's finding of a framed oil painting in 1966. Annie became obsessed with the painting and thought about changing the name of the pub to The Masked Lady (a mask was found with the painting) but was talked out of it by the regulars, who were bored with her talking about it. Eventually Jack threw it away and Annie soon forgot about it, little realising that the painting was a key part of the area's past, having hung over the fireplace of the White Mare, a coach house which stood on the grounds occupied by the Rovers hundreds of years ago.
The area behind the bar for use by staff and visitors contained a hallway with stairs to the upper floor, the back door, a living room and a kitchen. The living room was usually used as a staff rest room or for private parties which ran until after closing time (the Walkers 25th wedding anniversary party was held there). In September 1977, Annie Walker held a party held for her friends to show off the new carpet, which was embroidered with her own initials. It was only moments before the party that she realised that the carpet came from the Alhambra Weatherfield Bingo Hall, which caused great embarrassment for her when it was recognised by a guest.
The kitchen is used for cooking the pub's meals. A new kitchen was fitted in 1992 when an Environmental Health Officer inspected it and found cracked wall tiles and flaking paint work. Alec Gilroy reluctantly paid £7,000 for refurbishments. Long-serving barmaid Betty Williams (1969-2012) took charge of the catering, with her famed hotpot being the most requested item on the menu. Sean Tully has taken over the catering since Betty's death, and most recently he has been joined by Mandy Kamara as his senior.
The Rovers was the first house in the Street to have a phone installed. For a few years in the 1960s people were allowed through to the back (at the landlord's discretion) to use the phone. After the 1986 fire, the staircase was moved to the opposite side of the hall.
Although technically graded as an Inn, the spare Rovers bedroom wasn't regularly let out (although Ena Sharples used the technicality to force Annie to let her a room when no one else would let her stay with them in 1975). As originally laid out, the upper level of the Rovers contained four bedrooms and a laundry room, which was converted into a bathroom in 1910. As no other houses in the Street contained a plumbed-in bath at the time, the public was charged a fee to use it. In 1962, Dennis Tanner borrowed the Rovers keys from Concepta Hewitt and put two sealions in the bath and let three women performers sleep in their bed, as he had to get them out of the way for the night and knew the Walkers were away. Jack and Annie were surprised to discover the troupe when they returned home early.
In 2008, the upper level contained a living room and a kitchen.
- The upstairs flat first appeared in Episode 6883 (15th August 2008), having never been seen or referenced before. It was dropped early in 2010 and the old layout has been in use since. Again, no on-screen reference was made to any changes at the pub.
Pub regulars and community
The sphere of influence of the Rovers is primarily residents and workers in Coronation Street, Rosamund Street and Victoria Street, and other nearby streets in Weatherfield. Many of them have given the pub years of patronship - in 1978, Ena Sharples and Albert Tatlock argued over who had frequented the Rovers the longest, with Ena winning after producing a friend, Lizzie Hinchcliffe, who had shared her first drink with Ena there in 1918, sixty years prior. While not as longstanding a punter, Stan Ogden was photographed by the Weatherfield Gazette in 1975 as his attendance and volume of alcohol consumed at the Rovers was a record. Other notable drinkers at the Rovers include pop band Status Quo in 2005, who popped in for a drink when their van broke down.
Particularly in the years when the pub was owned by Newton & Ridley, the Rovers staff and regulars enjoyed a friendly rivalry with other local pubs, mainly The Flying Horse. They often competed in contests, including several Pub Olympics, a tug-of-war on Christmas Day 1967, a football game in 1969, a barbershop quartet competition in 1980 and a talent contest in 1984. The Rovers team usually won, only losing out to The Flying Horse in the tug-of-war. Regulars from the Rovers also formed the all-woman bowling team The Rovers Ravers in 2004, winning the tournament thanks to Jack Duckworth (competing in drag).
- See: List of Rovers staff
- Jim Corbishley (1902-1918)
- Nellie Corbishley (1902-1918)
- Charlie Corbishley (1902-1916)
- Janey Atkinson (1903)
- Sarah Bridges (1905-1916)
- Pearl Crapper (1910-1918)
- George Diggins (1918-1937)
- Mary Diggins (1918-1937)
- Edna Tatlock (1920-1921)
- Jack Walker (1937-1970)
- Annie Walker (1937-1983)
- Billy Walker (1937-1961, 1970-1971, 1972-1973, 1974-1975, 1979, 1984)
- Joan Walker (1940-1960, 1961)
- Ned Narkin (1943-1944)
- Concepta Riley (1960-1961)
- Vincent Plummer (1961)
- Nona Willis (1961)
- Sam Leach (1962)
- Lucille Hewitt (1964-1969, 1970-1974)
- Brenda Riley (1966)
- Emily Nugent (1968-1972)
- Lorna Shawcross (1971)
- Glyn Thomas (1973)
- Fred Gee (1976-1981, 1982-1984)
- Eunice Gee (1981)
- Gordon Lewis (1984)
- Bet Lynch (1985-1995)
- Frank Mills (1985)
- Alec Gilroy (1987-1992, 1995)
- Megan Morgan (1989)
- Charlie Bracewell (1989)
- Victoria Arden (1991-1995)
- Phil Jennings (1991)
- Mike Baldwin (1991)
- Raquel Wolstenhulme (1992-1994)
- Charlie Whelan (1994)
- Rodney Bostock (1995)
- Ken Barlow (1995)
- Jack Duckworth (1995-1998)
- Vera Duckworth (1995-1998)
- Tricia Armstrong (1996-1997)
- Jamie Armstrong (1996-1997)
- Brad Armstrong (1997)
- Natalie Barnes (1999-2000)
- Vinny Sorrell (1999-2000)
- Leanne Battersby (1999-2000, 2012, 2017-2018)
- Duggie Ferguson (2001-2002)
- Fred Elliott (2002-2003)
- Eve Elliott (2002)
- Geena Gregory (2002)
- Lillian Spencer (2002)
- Timothy Spencer (2002)
- Danielle Spencer (2002)
- Shelley Unwin (2003-2006)
- Peter Barlow (2003, 2017-2018, 2020-)
- Bev Unwin (2004-2006)
- Charlie Stubbs (2004-2005)
- Steve McDonald (2006-2012, 2013-2017)
- Liz McDonald (2006-2011, 2013-2017)
- Vernon Tomlin (2006-2008)
- Amy Barlow (2007-2010, 2013)
- Michelle Connor (2007-2009, 2013-2017, 2019)
- Ryan Connor (2007-2009, 2019)
- Alex Neeson (2008, 2019)
- Becky McDonald (2009-2011)
- Kylie Turner (2010)
- Max Turner (2010-2011)
- Claire Peacock (2010-2011)
- Joshua Peacock (2010-2011)
- Freddie Peacock (2010-2011)
- Stella Price (2011-2013)
- Karl Munro (2011-2012, 2013)
- Eva Price (2011-2013, 2017-2018)
- Simon Barlow (2012, 2017-2018, 2020-)
- Sunita Alahan (2012)
- Gloria Price (2012-2013)
- Eric Babbage (2013)
- Jason Grimshaw (2013)
- Andrea Beckett (2014)
- Tony Stewart (2014-2015)
- Aidan Connor (2015-2016)
- Sean Tully (2016)
- Toyah Battersby (2017-2018)
- Oliver Battersby (2017-2018)
- Chris Anderton (2017)
- Susie Barlow (2018)
- Johnny Connor (2018-)
- Jenny Connor (2018-)
- Kate Connor (2018-2019)
- Adam Barlow (2019-2020)
- Scott Emberton (2020)
- Carla Connor (2020)
- Emma Brooker (2020-2021)
- Daisy Midgeley (2020-)
- Ronnie Bailey (2021-)
- The Rovers was part of Tony Warren's original pitch for Coronation Street. The name was chosen because of the historic "Rover's Return" in Withy Grove, Manchester, which occupied a 14th-century building (pictured right in 1877). At some period it became a licensed house but ceased to be so in 1924. The building stood until 1958 when the City Council had it demolished.
- As with most interior sets, scenes in the Rovers were recorded in studio, with a backdrop of the outdoor Street behind the doors (although in modern episodes, characters are only seen entering the Rovers side-on, to avoid having to show a backdrop). Only on one occasion was the inside of the Rovers building on the 1982 Outdoor Set used for recording - in the climax of the 40th anniversary live episode in 2000, as the characters had to be able to move immediately from the Rovers to the Street for the next scene. To avoid giving away the fact that it was a different set, the characters were positioned close to the doors and only close-ups were used.
- Before the Grape Street set was built, when more complicated shots of the Rovers exterior were required, filming took place on location with a real pub standing in for the Rovers. The pub used was "The Amalgamated Inn" which stood on the corner of Clifton Street and Gloucester Street in Ordsall about half a mile north of Archie Street which was originally used by Denis Parkin as the template for Coronation Street. Though it bore little resemblance to the Rovers, the Amalgamated Inn was used twice in the programme. The first was in Episode 389 (2nd September 1964), in which Stan Ogden, recently taken on by Amalgamated Steel as a chauffeur, took family and friends out for a ride in the company Rolls Royce. The second was in Episode 690 (26th July 1967), when Annie Walker set off Paris in a chauffeur-driven limousine after winning a competition. The pub was closed in 1970 and was demolished in 1971.
- As noted in the individual sections above, the layout and locations of the entrances to the Rovers was inconsistently portrayed in some early episodes. The end credits of several 1960 episodes show the front entrance of the Rovers with a slightly different look to the one used in the programme. Also, the exit used by the wedding party in Episode 26 (13th March 1961), apparently the back door, is much grander than how it would later appear.
- In a similar vein, the Rovers toilets being on the right hand side of the bar seems impossible as No.1 Coronation Street should be on the other side of the wall, in accordance with the geography of the Street. 1970s and 1980s Producer Bill Podmore commented on this in his 1990 memoirs Coronation Street: The Inside Story, joking that it was the prime cause of No.1 owner Albert Tatlock's grumpiness. When the new outdoor set was built in 1982, a wall between the Rovers and No.1 was built between the houses but, while the Rovers toilets are not seen often, they were much larger than the addition to the set.
- Upon the move from Quay Street studios to MediaCity studios, the Rovers was expanded (as was the entire set to cope with the demands of high-definition filming) with an extra window being added to the front of the pub. The sudden appearance of this window was not explained in-show.
- While all of the houses in the Street are built to a scale, the interior dimensions of the time stretch credibility somewhat in relation to the size of the pub outside, particularly before the 1986 fire when the three-bar system was in place. Tellingly, the renovation following the fire only expanded the Public as far as the Snug, resulting in a much smaller interior (although the dimensions of the private accommodation has remained the same).