Weatherfield Precinct Open For Business
Coronation Street today proudly unveils its latest edition to the soap’s ever growing fictional universe - Weatherfield Precinct.
The much mentioned precinct has been visited by the residents of Coronation Street for decades and now the first time viewers will be able to take trips to the shopping centre with their favourite characters.
Today (Thurs Dec 1st) cast including Sally Dynevor, Antony Cotton, Jimmi Harkishin, Daniel Brockelbank, Channique Sterling-Brown, Elle Mulvaney, Tanisha Gorey, James Craven and Colson Smith officially declared Weatherfield Precinct open for business.
The first scene will be filmed next week, 9 months since building work started on the new exterior set, and will air on January 13th.
The impressive two storey construction features maisonettes, a staircase and balcony leading to the properties, a piazza and an array of accessible local shops and units, which enhance and extend the set based on the programme’s 7.7 acre site in Trafford, near Manchester.
A children’s park and play area with swings and a roundabout adds extra scope for filming away from the cobbles.
As part of the wider Weatherfield community, the precinct has often cropped up in the soap’s dialogue with characters heading off to the parade of shops. The new set will afford scriptwriters the chance to make the most of the show’s broadening horizons, creating opportunities to explore storylines beyond the cobbles of Coronation Street itself.
Designed and developed by the Coronation Street Design and Construction teams the new set has been cleverly aged and weathered to look like it has been there for decades, the range of shops chosen to accurately represent the many similar 1960’s built shopping precincts in towns and cities across the UK.
There is even a charity shop which will be one of the first sets to provide a new workplace for residents when Roy Cropper and Evelyn Plumber volunteer their services.
Producer Iain MacLeod said: “Hats off to our design and construction teams who have conjured a totally convincing new precinct for our drama! They took their inspiration from Salford’s many real-world, late 20th century shopping areas and what they have created is a brilliant, characterful space to tell a diverse range of stories. Expect to see teens hanging out at the dessert shop, families enjoying the play area and, after dark, a rogues’ gallery, up to shady business in the ginnels. I am really excited by the arrival on screen of this much discussed but never seen corner of the Weatherfield universe.”
Head of Design Rosie Mullins explained the process: “Back in 2013 Coronation Street moved into its new home at Media City. With this move came exciting potential to continue to develop and expand our Weatherfield Community onsite. The first expansion came in the form of Victoria Street and Weatherfield Police Station builds back in 2018.
“In February 2021 I set about the first pencil drawings for a very exciting new exterior build - Weatherfield Precinct. We have often heard about this precinct and although we have filmed over the years at a range of shopping locations, we had never established our own Weatherfield Precinct. It had always intrigued me - what would it look like and who would we find there? The opportunity to bring to life a colourful and grittier area of Weatherfield was so exciting!
“Weatherfield Precinct was inspired by the 1960s shopping precincts that we see across many areas of the UK. In designing this the team gathered hundreds of images with a particular focus given to those in our local Manchester and Salford area. I wanted there to be aspects of the Precinct that people from all walks of life identify with and recognise. I wanted it to reflect how communities develop but aspects of them can also feel like stepping back in time.
“In this Precinct we find an array of businesses, a playground, residential flats, a small ginnel, Weatherfield community hub and a very colourful community recycling centre. Working with Iain on what the writing team needs from the Precinct has meant that we have managed to pack so much into this new set! I cannot wait to see the arrival onscreen of Sweety Nuff dessert & milkshake shop, Gregory Pope Foundation Charity Shop, Rutlands bakery, Pound Outlet and Bargainanza Pawnbrokers.
“The most incredible part of this has been watching this build rise from a small car park with a mass of ugly steel, concrete and timber to the beautifully constructed, characterful 1960s 2 storey precinct that we see today. \
“This build has been one of the most enjoyable builds that we have undertaken and showcases the many behind the scenes talents that the programme has to offer. I am incredibly proud of the detail, the quality of the build and for what it offers for future storytelling for the show. I am also so very proud of how it was brought to life by our in-house talented Design Team. The team worked tirelessly in the not so glorious Weatherfield Weather on a 9 month build which was led by myself and Keith Eccleston Construction Manager and with incredible Art Direction & design from Rosie Jones.
A brilliant dedicated team of joiners led onsite by Rick Ellacott and Martin Broadbent. Bringing the build to life has involved our Painters and Scenic Artists and their skill and magic. The captivating visual ident of Graphics were provided by Lynsey Phillips and an amazing array of authentic & characterful set dressings sourced by buyer Jess Williams. Our Prop Dressing team have done a fantastically detailed job of bringing the businesses and the building itself to life. The team worked alongside our clever Electricians who have installed an ambient and authentic lighting that complements the build perfectly.
The build was completed in just 9 months whilst filming 5 days a week continued around it.
From the Corrie team it took 1 Production Designer, 1 Construction Manager, 1 Art Director, 2 Site Supervising Joiners, 2 Painter & Decorators, 2 Scenic Painters, 11 joiners, 2 builders, 3 Construction workers applying brick slips, 5 dressers, 4 electricians, 2 Production buyers.
The need to employ external contractors was limited to a structural engineer, CDM advisor, Steel fabricators, Scaffolders & core electrical works.
Many elements of the build like the shop fronts, windows and doors were created in the Construction Workshop with a prefab approach to building. They are all designed to limit reflections and to make the precinct filming friendly.
The build, like Victoria Street, is a facade. Some of the doorways have displays dressed inside the doorways giving the illusion of depth.
The precinct was built using the steel work at the back of Victoria Street.
The concrete 3D wall tiles seen are actually scenically painted to look that way and are a lightweight PVC
The stained glass windows in the dessert shop were created by Richard Brockless our talented Scenic Artist.
We applied approx 5000 brick slips
To help visualise the build alongside technical drawings we produced a 3D computer rendered model and a hand painted cardboard model. These were used as a reference throughout the build.
There is a practical balcony that can also be used for filming.
Look out for the interior set of the charity shop in the future
The method of construction has been from a timber frame secured to existing steel covered with cement board with a final application of brick slips. The windows, doors and businesses were all made offsite in the construction workshop from hardwood for longevity and fitted onsite.
We used it as a way to share skills and a mortaring master class was run onsite.
Claude the ice cream loving french bulldog was commissioned as a mascot for the dessert shop
The staircase was actually from our original Underworld set and was reclad in brick slips
We now have an in vision community recycling area to promote recycling onscreen and this was painted using leftover tins of paint from previous sets.
A large amount of props were reused from our prop stores.
The benches and seating with planters are all made from recycled plastics
All of the foods you see in the bakery window are in fact prop makes that have been made by our fantastic in house Prop Maker Lauren Heakin. This is to prevent food waste.
The precinct was built using the steel work at the back of Victoria Street. New steelwork was kept to a minimum.
We have used environmentally sourced timber throughout the build.
A lot of our lighting is LED