A look back at Manchester’s lost tourist attraction that welcomed millions

After opening in a blaze of publicity in 1988, Manchester’s Granada Studio Tour tour attracted over five million telly fans in its heyday, who came to see the famous outdoor set of Coronation Street and more.

Located on Quay Street, the Granada Studio Tour was opened in July 1988 and was a must-visit for anyone in Manchester and nearby, quickly attracting people from all over the world.

The red neon Granada sign soon became a popular sight across the city. However, by the turn of the millennium the number of visitors was 30 per cent less than expected, the drop coming as Granada Media moved away from leisure and entertainment.

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In December 1999, the entertainment theme park closed to the general public, although it continued to welcome visitors as part of hospitality packages until 2006, when it closed for good.

Here, the Manchester Evening News takes a brief look back at the Granada Studio Tour and why it was so popular.

In the 1980s and 1990s, many Mancunians will remember going on the tour, whether it be with your school or fellow Corrie-fans.

The opportunity to walk down the cobbled street and immerse yourself in all things Coronation Street was a massive selling-point of the tour, which also allowed visitors to enjoy a drink in a replica of the Rovers Return pub, which was rebuilt for tourists in the 90s.

Corrie fans could also visit sets were interior scenes were shot, such as Jack and Vera Duckworth’s lounge and see Rita’s Kabin, Denise’s hairdressing salon and more.



Jack and Vera Duckworth's lounge at Coronation Street as part of the Granada Studios Tour.  February 9, 1995
Jack and Vera Duckworth’s lounge at Coronation Street, as part of the Granada Studios Tour. February 9, 1995

Upon entering the attraction, many will remember being treated to a bustling New York street set, complete with yellow cabs and neon signs.

Granada Studios Tour also featured the shop from Sooty & Co. and a mock-up of the bar from Emmerdale’ s Woolpack.

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Visitors could enjoy a trip down Baker Street – Sherlock Holmes’ set – and a set of the House of Commons.



The New York set being built at the Granada Studios Tour, Manchester.  June 15, 1988
The New York set being built at the Granada Studios Tour in Manchester. June 15, 1988

At one point, there was also a mock-up of a 1930s independent cinema designed as part of Granada Studios Tour.

Walking around, you were bound to spot the Granada Studio Tour official mascot, OB.

The makeup departments and special effects were laid bare for you to see and if you were lucky, you could also spot program rehearsals.



The Coronation Street set at the Granada Studios Tour.  June 15, 1988
The Coronation Street set at the Granada Studios Tour, Manchester. June 15, 1988

However, by the turn of the millennium, it was announced that Granada Studios Tour – once voted the region’s top tourist attraction – was to close for good.

By 1999, visitor numbers had dwindled and it shut its doors to the general public, although it continued to welcome visitors as part of hospitality packages until 2006, when it closed for good.

Between 1988 and 1999, it had attracted over five million visitors, but at the time Granada Media owners believed it had lost its pulling power, the MEN reported.

The number of visitors was 30 per cent less than expected, the drop coming as Granada Media moved away from leisure and entertainment. In December 1999, the tour closed to the general public, with the loss of more than 200 jobs.



The old Granada Studios Tour, Manchester
The old Granada Studios Tour, Manchester

The MEN previously reported how at its peak, the tour employed 361 staff and that props from TV shows such as Heartbeat, Emmerdale and Coronation Street were to returned to the program makers upon closure.

The cars and helicopter once featured in the tour were also removed due to their poor condition.

Did you ever go on the Granada Studio Tour? Let us know in the comments section below.

In 2013, the Coronation Street was moved to a new home at Trafford Wharf Road after 53 years.

The new site at MediaCityUK took two years to complete and is a painstaking recreation of the original Weatherfield street that had always been based at Granada Studios in Manchester.



Granada Studios Tour winners enjoy a ride on the tram down Baker Street.  Pictured LR clockwise: Miss Kim Lord of Burnage, Sybil Wallman of Salford, Miss Margaret Fleet of Cholton, Kevin Fleming of Stretford, David Hurst of Wigan, Christopher Hollinghurst of Middleton, Nigel Morris of Warrington, Stewart Howarth of Denton, Majorie Stone of Manchester and Jean O'Sullivan of Whitefield.  July 19, 1988
Granada Studios Tour winners enjoy a ride on the tram down Baker Street. Pictured LR clockwise: Miss Kim Lord of Burnage, Sybil Wallman of Salford, Miss Margaret Fleet of Cholton, Kevin Fleming of Stretford, David Hurst of Wigan, Christopher Hollinghurst of Middleton, Nigel Morris of Warrington, Stewart Howarth of Denton, Majorie Stone of Manchester and Jean O’Sullivan of Whitefield. Picture takenJuly 19, 1988

But the Coronation Street set that was part of the original theme park was temporarily re-opened to the public in 2014 for a six-month period and saw more than 850,000 people travel from all over the world to walk the famous cobbles.

Due to being so phenomenally popular, it was allowed to remain open until the end of 2015. In 20 months, the site saw proposals, weddings and even Ed Sheeran perform a live gig at Carla’s flat.

In 2016, The Granadaland Gallery gave one last glimpse behind the scenes at the TV studios before they are redeveloped into the new cultural Quarter St John’s.

Eerie photos showed dressing rooms lying in decay to a forgotten canal running beneath the site.

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Inside the Hacienda nightclub, Manchester.  dateunknown

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