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Coronation Street

Up to date as of January 31, 2010
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The Glad Tidings Mission Hall was a religious building in Victoria Street, Weatherfield.

Originally standing next to Hardcastle's Mill, the Hall was used by a Christian evangelical movement as a place of worship, and was served by a preacher. The purpose of the Mission was to spread the word of God to the community in Weatherfield, but as congregations dwindled in the 1960s, the building was more often used as a community centre. It was one of several Mission Halls in the area but was finally demolished in 1968.

Ena Sharples, the Mission caretaker, lived in the vestry, which had its own entrance from Coronation Street. The vestry stood on the space currently occupied by The Kabin.

Contents

Background

Victoria Street entrance to the Mission

The Glad Tidings Hall was built around the same time as Coronation Street itself in 1902. The turn of the century was a time of rapid industrial growth and as streets like Coronation Street were being built, housing the workers of factories like Hardcastle's Cotton Mill, missions were set up in areas with large communities but few churches, to keep God in the lives of the neighbours. On Sundays, the Mission Hall was visited by a Reverend preacher who conducted religious services there. Religion was a much bigger part of people's lives than it is today, and it was seen as the moral duty of the missionaries to convert the heathens of the street.

Despite being primarily a religious building, its size and location made it a key building in the community. At first it was strictly used for religion but as time wore on it was frequently used for other events including meetings, club, parties, shows and theatre, and the residents of the street were even evacuated to the Mission during the War.

The building was not owned by the council but by the Mission Committee, who kept a close eye on Glad Tidings and those who were paid to represent it.

Layout

The Mission hall had one floor and was largely wooden, except for the brick front porch.

Though the chapel's main entrance was in Victoria Street, the hall and the vestry extended to Coronation Street, on the site currently occupied by the Underworld factory, Webster's Garage and The Kabin. The vestry, a small flat for the Mission caretaker, had its own side entrance and address of 16 Coronation Street (now the address of the garage).

The entrance to Glad Tidings was through the front porch, which opened onto a large hall. The hall had a stage but the location of the Mission meant the room didn't get much natural light - the viaduct across the street blocked the sun through the two stained glass windows. The hall had a door leading to the vestry but no facilities such as toilets.

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The Vestry

Elsie Tanner and Leonard Swindley outside the vestry

The two-roomed flat nicknamed the vestry was home to the Mission caretaker, the only full-time resident of the building. In the 1960s, Ena Sharples had been the caretaker for years, but didn't think the job was worth the money considering such modest living conditions.

The job of the caretaker was to look after the building. In exchange for her services, Ena was given accommodation, free coal and wasn't required to pay rent. While Ena was caretaker, the Mission supervisor was Leonard Swindley, who didn't want her drinking at the Rovers Return Inn because of her ties with the faith. In 1960, Ena broke down when Swindley called her in the snug of the Rovers while charity-collecting and she recovered in hospital while Martha Longhurst helped out at the Mission in her absence. Ena thought Martha was after her job and made an effort to get back home as quickly as possible.

Ena was replaced as caretaker by Albert Tatlock when Swindley again criticised Ena for her fondness for milk stout. Ena took the job back when Albert resigned and Ena was recommended to Swindley's boss, Mr. Baxter.

The position of caretaker was also briefly held by Jed Stone in 1963, but again Ena returned.

An empty vestry

Later that year, Ena came back from a wedding to find the vestry vandalised. It had been wrecked by Michael Butterworth, who had stolen builder Len Fairclough's key, causing Len to lose a building contract.

As the 1960s wore on, Ena was getting more worried with the Mission being misused, and made no secret of her opinions when it was turned into a community centre in 1966 because of low congregation turnouts. At a dance that year, held in the hall, thugs threatened Ena and Lucille Hewitt in the vestry, but Ena was tougher than she looked and sent them packing. Ena was relieved when the community centre moved to Chester Street, leaving her to enjoy the quiet once more.

In 1967, Ena's daughter Vera Lomax came to stay with her. Ena knew that Vera had a brain tumour and was dying, but couldn't bring herself to tell her and could do nothing as her daughter's life ebbed away in the vestry.

The following year Ena moved out of the vestry for good as the Mission was demolished.

Decline

Over the years, the Mission stood firm in Coronation Street, but by 1960, things were changing. Religion was not as big a part of people's lives as it was before the war.

In 1961, Leonard Swindley set up the Over 60s club in the Mission. Swindley was a central member of the community and organised a trip to Blackpool for the club members later that year.

The following year, the residents formed the Mission Hall Players and put on a production of Lady Lawson Loses, produced by Swindley, performed in the hall on Christmas Day.

January 1968: The bulldozers move in on the mission

Over the next few years, the Mission Hall was used for several functions including a children's party, a fashion show, a fancy dress party, a playgroup, and more productions. It was becoming more of a glorified function room, and similar things were happening in other Missions, which were gradually being closed because of low Sunday service turnouts. In 1964, Stuart Hodges took over the supervisor's role, but he was soon replaced by the returning Swindley.

The Mission was set to close in 1965, but was merged with Bold Street Mission instead. In 1966, the Mission was used as a community centre, run by social worker Ruth Winter. In 1967, Councillor Len Fairclough found out the Mission was to follow suit of the other Missions and was to be demolished. The council bought the Mission and it was pulled down in early 1968, along with Elliston's Raincoat Factory. Both were replaced by a block of maisonettes.

Legacy

In 2004, Norris Cole thought newsagent the Kabin was haunted by the ghost of Vera Lomax, who died in the spot currently occupied by the Kabin's stockroom. Norris, Rita Sullivan, Emily Bishop and Betty Williams held a séance in the stockroom to allow the "ghost" to contact them. The ghost turned out to be dampness.

Behind the scenes

In some 1960 episode closing titles, the Mission entrance was incorrectly shown to be next door to the Rovers Return Inn in Coronation Street, but though it hadn't yet been seen its position across the street had been established in dialogue.


This article uses material from the "Glad Tidings Mission Hall" article on the Coronation Street wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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