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GRAPEVINE: Meeting Rita

The Industrial Revolution, originating in 18th and 19th century Britain, marked a major turning point in history. Major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times.

By David Brook

Monday 30 April 2012, 04:18PM

Grapevine’s David Brook, with Barbara Knox, right.

Grapevine’s David Brook, with Barbara Knox, right.

Salford, a major factory town and inland port, was of even greater commercial importance than neighbouring Manchester. Canal building provided further stimulus and Salford Docks became a major inland port and principal dockyard of the Manchester Ship Canal.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels studied the plight of the working classes. Engels described Salford as “really one large working class quarter…very unhealthy, dirty and dilapidated district…” Over time industry changed, causing local economic depression; mills closed and Salford declined.

A a particular part of Salford is known to millions as Weatherfield. With cobbled streets and Victorian terrace houses it is the home of Coronation Street, the world’s longest running television soap opera.

After the first airing on December 9, 1950, The Daily Mirror commented, “The programme is doomed from the outset.” The public thought otherwise, as audiences soared to over 20 million for the following three decades.

A variety of celebrities have appeared over the years – Ben Kingsley, Peter Noone, Fulton Mackay Phil Taylor, and Violet Carson (the indomitable Ena Sharples).One other notable character joined Coronation Street in December 1964, originally as Rita Fairclough, played by Barbara Knox.

An Oldham lass herself, Barbara rarely gives interviews but does enjoy gardening, tapestry and an occasional flutter on the horses.

This is where I met her, as a VIP Guest of Seagrams at the Aintree Grand National. It was a delight and pleasure to spend time with her as she recounted experiences from her acting life.

Truly a remarkable lady, as she also picked the national winner. I watched the original episode of Coronation Street… and still watch it to this day here in Thailand. And I know what happens to her next, but that script is secret!

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