London is the capital both of England and the United Kingdom. Its population of almost nine million people makes it by a considerable margin the largest city in the UK and in terms of its municipal area it is also the largest city in Europe.
London is recognised as being of world importance in the areas of politics, finance and culture and has always contained extremes of wealth and poverty. Despite the latter it has been viewed by some as being a city of almost mythic opportunity with its streets being "paved with gold". The inhabitants of Coronation Street have always viewed the city with one of two opposite viewpoints; almost all of the elder generation has seen the metropolis with a great deal of mistrust and while not exactly being satisfied with "their lot", don’t see living and working in London as the panacea to their ills. The younger generation, looking for a world which must contain more than cobbles and chimney pots have seen London as giving them chances and opportunities that Weatherfield never could.
In 1961 David Barlow and Billy Walker were the first to test this hypothesis. In June professional footballer David was offered a chance of a transfer from Weatherfield County FC to a second division London club. At the same time Billy was asked to help run a garage in Chiswick and both young men left their families, weeping mothers and all, and went down south for several years.
Just a few weeks after Billy's departure in August, London came to the Street when cockney Nona Willis was employed as the Rovers new barmaid. She only lasted a couple of months as she found the local's northern accents too difficult to understand.
In November of the same year, David's elder brother Ken made the same decision to move having resigned from his hated job at Amalgamated Steel and having endured one row too many with his father, Frank. Meeting fellow resident Christine Hardman by accident at the station he was talked into seeing that he was in fact running away from himself and not his surroundings and he returned home.
In March 1962 Dennis Tanner became the next ex-pat from Weatherfield in the capital when he moved there to help talent spotter and agent Lenny Phillips open an office and decided to stay permanently. Just two months later Billy returned, complete with fiancée, Finsbury Beauty Queen Philippa Scopes. Billy's horrified mother, Annie was opposed to the marriage but needn't have worried as Billy and Philippa argued over his determination that she gave up the business of being a beauty queen once they were married and her equal determination not to. Billy bounced back from this disappointment and returned down south.
Ken Barlow was married to the literal "girl next door", Valerie Tatlock in the August and they spent their honeymoon in London. In April 1963 it was the turn of Dennis Tanner to make his way back up north when he landed by surprise on his mother Elsie's doorstep. What he didn't know was that she was in a bitter dispute with the landlord over what she saw as an exorbitant rent rise and had barricaded herself in her house to avoid being evicted by bailiffs. The unsuspecting Dennis happily let the bailiffs in and Elsie was forced to hand over the back rent when her furniture started to be piled up in the Street. Dennis caused further problems within a week or so when a young lady, Mavis Fox, turned up from London looking for the semi-detached houses in the Street. Dennis had been courting her while he was away and had wildly exaggerated his background. When he was forced to confess the truth, Mavis returned home.
Towards the end of the year London became embroiled in the affairs of the Street once more when Walter Potts a singing sensation discovery of Dennis Tanner's (performing under the stage name of Brett Falcon), made two trips down south, the first to record his debut single Not Too Little, Not Too Much and the second to perform in a concert. On this latter occasion, teenager Lucille Hewitt followed him, skipping school and deceiving her parents to do so.
In March 1964 Martha Longhurst went to London in the hope of a proposal of marriage from old sweetheart Ted Ashley but the romance was all in her head and she hated her time in the capital, returning ashamed and hiding herself away in her house.
The next resident of the Street to make the move to London was teenage tearaway Trevor Ogden. His leaving present to the people he left behind was to burgle their houses and workplaces and take the money he found with him. Towards the end of the year Billy Walker made another visit to settle a misunderstanding between his parents; Annie had found cheques made out to a Mrs Nichols and, not for the first time, allowed her fevered imagination to rule her head and led her to believe that her steadfastly faithful husband Jack was having an affair. Billy told Annie that he had been sacked from his garage job and Jack had been paying his rent to Mrs Nichols, his London landlady. A few weeks later David Barlow made another trip back home which was a precursor to his staying permanently in Weatherfield for three years after he sustained an injury which ended his footballing career. Marrying Irma Ogden and running the Corner Shop, his final move was to Australia in April 1968 where he died there two years later.
Other inhabitants of the capital who made their mark in Weatherfield in the 1960s included cockney bookie and minor villain Dave Smith and Jenny Sutton who followed her hippy sister Monica up north when a commune was briefly set up in No. 11 in January 1968. Dennis immediately fell in love with her and three months later they were married and moved away from the North.
In April 1969 Gordon Clegg, ex-fiancé of Lucille Hewitt made the move to London when he qualified as an accountant. Aside from various visits home to see family, he has remained there ever since. At the same time that he left the area, Dave Smith's wife, Lillian arrived, threatening her husband for divorce and threatening Elsie as co-respondent. Dave soon bought her off.
A year later Elsie's niece, Sandra Butler left the Street after ten months living with her Aunt to go to London with petty villains Frank Bradley and Judd Johnson. In July 1971 Billy Walker, after almost a year back home with his now-widowed mother left once more to take up his old life in the capital although he had several more stints behind the bar of the Rovers Return Inn before finally making his home in Jersey later in the 1970s. In July 1973 Elsie Tanner, now remarried as Elsie Howard, made a secretive visit to London when she heard that son Dennis had returned to a life of crime that had blighted his late teenage years and had been imprisoned for stealing from pensioners. By chance she was knocked down by a London taxi and spent almost two weeks in hospital unconscious with no one in the capital aware of her identity and no one back home aware of where she had really gone to when she had told everyone concerned, including husband Alan that she had gone to Sheffield to see old friend Sheila Crossley. She was eventually tracked down, recovered and returned home.
London made its mark in other ways; in June 1977 Ray and Deirdre Langton won a weekend there in a Silver Jubilee contest. Their return on the train was delayed for several hours and Ena Sharples stepped in to babysit their baby daughter Tracy when granny Blanche Hunt had to return home. Unfortunately Ena slipped and fell while rushing to answer the phone and knocked herself unconscious. The neighbours broke in to rescue her when they heard Tracy crying and Ena endured a short spell in hospital.
In December of the following year Suzie Birchall and Gail Potter planned to follow the well-worn path to London to make their fortunes but Gail backed out at the last minute. Suzie went alone but returned within weeks, broke. At the very end of the decade, Mike Baldwin's assistant, Steve Fisher, transferred to Mike's London factory to help manage operations there. No sooner had he gone than Suzie Birchall tried her luck again in the capital. This time she stayed longer, returning to the Street in January 1983 being followed soon after by an abusive husband, Terry Goodwin.
In October 1976, the longest-lasting Londoner to make his mark on the little cobbled street in the North made his first appearance when Michael Vernon Baldwin opened his denim factory, Baldwin's Casuals, in the empty warehouse. He already had another factory running in the capital and the two sites co-existed until September 1982 when rising costs forced Mike to close down his southern operation. From 1976 until his death in 2006 Mike had a huge impact on the Street, marrying and divorcing three women of the area, having affairs with several more and making firm enemies of some of the residents, none more so than Ken Barlow who loathed the lecherous cockney with a passion after he had a fling with his wife, Deirdre in early 1983 and then wed his daughter Susan in May 1986 although the marriage lasted only some eighteen months, ending acrimoniously in November 1987 when Susan told Mike she had travelled to a London clinic to abort the child she was expecting. In reality Susan had taken no such action but had said she had done it to get out of the marriage. Unknown to anyone else but her brother Peter, she gave birth to a son Adam the following year.
Mike sold his factory to builder Maurice Jones in August 1989 but he couldn't stay out of the rag trade for long and opened a new factory, Underworld, on the Street in March 1996, firstly making sportswear and later ladies knickers. In his wake over the decades that Mike had his businesses in the area, several of his family also made their mark; firstly his father Frankie, a former docker, involved Fred Gee in a wedding video scam and then also conned Alf Roberts. He died in London in July 1982. In May 2004 a whole new generation of Baldwins hit the Street when Danny Baldwin, his second wife Francesca, (also known as Frankie) and half-brother sons Jamie and Warren arrived. Danny had an opportunity to buy into the Underworld operation but he had to sell his house in Chigwell to do this. He had recently has a split from his second wife Frankie after he caught her out in an affair with his best friend Vinny Evans. Frankie wanted to make another go of their marriage and Danny agreed, seeing that Frankie was genuine when she turned Vinny down when he followed her to Weatherfield. Things became problematic though when Vinny was beaten up by Jamie Baldwin, Danny's son from his previous marriage. Vinny could only be persuaded to drop the charges by giving what money remained from the house sale in Chigwell which meant that the Baldwins had to stay in Weatherfield and rent No.7. Danny and Frankie's second son, Warren followed soon after. A professional footballer, he had been sacked by Brentford FC but, reversing the change made by David Barlow over forty years before, he moved from that London club and got a contract with Weatherfield FC. This proved to be a short-lived career move though but Warren landed on his feet when he got another contract with a club in Spain.
Over the course of the next two years the new Baldwin clan proved to have an explosive impact on the Street with near-incestuous relationships coming to the fore; Mike Baldwin proved to be Danny's father, not his brother, Harry; Danny had an affair with Jamie's girlfriend Leanne Battersby, which was the final nail in the coffin of his and Frankie's marriage; and finally Frankie and Jamie, stepmother and stepson had an affair which proved to be the end of most of the Baldwin clan in the Street.
Albert Tatlock almost made a trip down to London in November 1980 to join in with the annual Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph but his old army pal Monty Shawcross died on the eve of the trip and instead Albert paid for a wreath which he laid on Manchester's Cenotaph.
The following year Betty Turpin and Mavis Riley travelled down south to join in the celebrations for the Royal Wedding on 29th July 1981. In September 1985 Terry Duckworth made an aborted move to London; he bought his railway ticket but fell asleep at the station where he was robbed of his ticket and money. At the end of the year the romance between Mike Baldwin and Susan Barlow developed when they spend the New Year in a London hotel and similar trip one month later.
After several years of the capital having little effect upon the lives of the residents, the lure of a better life led Raquel Wolstenhulme to travel three times to London to pursue her ambitions of becoming a model; firstly in May 1991, only for her to resurface in December of the same year have ending up with no assignments and sleeping on a friend's floor, secondly to Croydon to join The Mayfair Academy of Modelling in September 1993. After several weeks away she returned, expecting the phone to ring with constant offers of work. Despite this not happening she signed up for another course in July 1994 and was equally unsuccessful, being fetched back by Bet Gilroy who travelled to Croydon to fetch her, not believing the stories she told of her successes in her chosen profession.
Although the residents of the Street had been on various day trips in the past to places such as Blackpool and the Lake District, these had for the most part been visits to fairly local sites, the exception being a trip to "far-flung" Woburn Abbey in 1973. However in February 1994 the Wiltons organised a day trip to London on which they were joined by Ken Barlow, Emily Bishop and the Roberts'. One of the purposes of the trip was to see Miss Saigon but the event was memorable due to Derek Wilton being left off the coach when it stopped at a motorway service station and having to be given a lift back by one Norris Cole who thus entered the life of the residents of the Street.
In July 1995 Tracy Barlow ran away to London, via a friend's in Blackpool to avoid her mother, Deirdre Rachid, after her husband Samir died after being attacked and one of his kidney's used to transplant to Tracy who had damaged hers by taking ecstasy. Tracy returned in November 1996 with the news that she was engaged to be married to Robert Preston. After their marriage the two moved back to London but Tracy returned from there at Christmas 2002, her marriage over after Robert had caught her out in an affair.
In December 1995, Alf and Audrey Roberts travelled to London for Alf's presentation of an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II. They were taken there by Don Brennan who rowed with Audrey and dumped her at a motorway service station. Alf went on alone and saw Betty Williams in The Mall on a day trip and took her as his partner into Buckingham Palace, much to the anger of Audrey who turned up late at the gates but without her pass.
In July 1996, Nick Tilsley caused consternation when he went missing for several weeks having run away from home. When he returned he claimed that he'd been sleeping rough in London but soon confessed that he'd found the city boring and instead had moved on to Torquay.
Two years later, in August 1998, Toyah Battersby became the next teenage runway to make her way to London after one row too many with her step-father Les. She made her way to what she thought was the address of her real father who she had not met for many a year, Ronnie Clegg and introduced herself to the man who opened the door as his daughter, not realising that it was Neil Flynn, a disturbed ex-cellmate of Ronnie's. He tried to hold Toyah against her will but Les and Janice Battersby had gone to Ronnie's real address, realised the danger and alerted the police. By this time Neil had taken Toyah to Epping Forest from where she'd managed to escape and was found the next day after a frantic few hours agony for Les and Janice.
In June 2001 Audrey Roberts, by now a widow, went on a trip to London with daughter Gail Platt and granddaughter Sarah. While they were away the health of terminally ill Alma Halliwell took a turn for the worse and they only just returned in time to be there as Alma slipped away.
In June 2002 Betty Williams underwent one of her periodic retirements from the Rovers and moved to Wimbledon to be near her natural son Gordon Clegg but within six weeks she had moved back, realising that she had no friends to visit in the area and that Caroline, Gordon's wife, didn't want her pensioner mother-in-law living with her.
Two years later, in September 2004, Todd Grimshaw became the next youngster to move to London from the north following a row with his brother Jason after he caught him sleeping with his ex-girlfriend Sarah Platt.
The Barlows, with Liz and Steve McDonald in tow, made a visit en-masse to London in November 2004. The ostensible reason was to take part in a family television quiz show, Top of the Tree, but Tracy Barlow, now divorced from Robert, saw an opportunity to cause a further fracture in the marriage of Steve and Karen McDonald, already dangerously jealous of Steve's fatherhood of Tracy's daughter, Amy. Sure enough, when Karen saw the televised quiz and the fact that a phone call from Steve to her provided the winning answer in a "phone a friend" section, she erupted in anger and threw Steve out of their flat.
2004 saw the biggest influx of Londoners into the Street when Mike Baldwin's nephew, Danny and his family moved up to the north. Danny had an opportunity to buy into the Underworld operation but he had to sell his house in Chigwell to do this. He had recently has a split from his second wife Frankie after he caught her out in an affair with his best friend Vinny Evans. Frankie wanted to make another go of their marriage and Danny agreed, seeing that Frankie was genuine when she turned Vinny down when he followed her to Weatherfield. Things became problematic though when Vinny was beaten up by Jamie Baldwin, Danny's son from his previous marriage. Vinny could only be persuaded to drop the charges by giving what money remained from the house sale in Chigwell which meant that the Baldwin's had to stay in Weatherfield and rent No. 7. Danny and Frankie's second son, Warren followed soon after. A professional footballer, he had been sacked by Brentford FC but, reversing the change made by David Barlow over forty years before, he moved from that London club and got a contract with Weatherfield FC. This proved to be a short-lived career move though but Warren landed on his feet when he got another contract with a club in Spain.
Over the course of the next two years the new Baldwin clan proved to have an explosive impact on the Street with near-incestuous relationships coming to the fore; Mike Baldwin proved to be Danny's father, not his brother, Harry; Danny had an affair with Jamie's girlfriend Leanne Battersby, which proved to be the final nail in the coffin of his and Frankie's marriage; and finally Frankie and Jamie, step-mother and step-son had an affair which proved to be the end of most of the Baldwin clan in the Street.
In June 2007 Leanne Battersby, descending into a life of prostitution, was stopped at the last minute by step-mother Janice from boarding a coach for London to do escort work there. Five months later in November Jodie Morton did make the move to live with friends feeling put upon by her family who took her hard work in their Kebab Shop for granted. Ten months later, after one row too many with his boyfriend Sean Tully, Marcus Dent went to the bright lights, their relationship over.
The latest resident of the Street to make the move down south is Amber Kalirai, illegitimate daughter of Dev Alahan, owner of the Corner Shop. Amber treads a well-worn trail of moving to the metropolis to better her life, having been accepted for a place at Kings College.
In February 2011, Leanne, now Leanne Barlow, made plans to go to London after her affair to Nick Tilsley had been exposed and she thought that her short-lived marriage to Peter was over. She bought a single ticket to go to the city but couldn't bring herself to make the trip and she and Peter were reconciled. The following month Carla Connor went to London for a textiles conference.
At the end of April, Sean went to London to visit his son Dylan, reuniting also with Marcus while he was there. Co-incidentally, on the same day Todd Grimshaw came up north from London for the first time in three and a half years to visit Weatherfield, bringing his millionaire boyfriend Jools Creme with him.
Forward by one more month and Tracy made mischief by making plans to move to London with Amy, taking her away from her father Steve but he put paid to that by threatening to take out an injunction against Tracy. In the event Tracy did go at the end of July but returned two months later when she discovered she was pregnant with Steve's baby.
Someone who did go there was Graeme Proctor who left for a new life with his new wife Xin. They also went on the same day that Sean and Marcus travelled to collect Dylan who they looked after following Violet being injured in a car crash. The child stayed in Weatherfield until September, though Sean made several more visits to London after that to be with his son.
In February 2013, David Platt went to London a hairdressing course and eleven months later Tina McIntyre decided to go there following her disastrous affair with Peter Barlow. She did so but returned to tidy up matters and was killed by Rob Donovan while she was back up north. Faye Windass was offered a school trip to London in April 2014 but her family’s precarious financial situation meant that she was unable to afford it.