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Whaley Bridge is a small town and civil parish in the High Peak district of Derbyshire. Although a small settlement had existed there for centuries and coal mining was an employer of some size there, the town suddenly expanded dramatically during the Industrial Revolution when many cotton mills sprang up, taking advantage of the damp climate.
In the spring of 1969, Coronation Street's executive producer H.V. Kershaw traced actress Betty Driver to the Cock Hotel in Whaley Bridge where she had left the acting profession to become a pub landlady. He famously asked her if she would prefer to be serving pints in the Rovers Return Inn and thus began a forty-two year association with the programme for her playing Betty Williams until shortly before her death.
Within the storylines of the programme, expat returnee Handel Gartside had a cousin in the town who he stayed with in the late summer of 1970 and soon afterwards he bought a house himself there. He made several visits back to his birth town of Weatherfield to see Minnie Caldwell and in 1976 he persuaded her to move there with him. She left Coronation Street, never to return.