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The Kabin: Coronation Street
Britain's best-loved soap, Coronation Street, has been on our screens continually since it was first broadcast in 1960. The famous cobbled street in the fictional town of Weatherfield was said to have been named in honour of King Edward VII's coronation, after it was constructed in 1902.
Created by Tony Warren for ITV, the UK's longest-running soap has seen many characters come and go over the decades, with only street stalwart Ken Barlow (played by 85-year-old William Roache) having stayed the distance.
While the residents have changed, some of Coronation Street's businesses have remained and have become almost as well-known as the show's stars. One such business is the newsagents, The Kabin, which has been around since the early 1970s.
The business was originally called Biddulphs and was located at 16 Rosamund Street, when it was attached to a cafe and a library. Subsequently, builder Len Fairclough (played by the late Peter Adamson) bought the business for his fiancée Rita Littlewood in May 1973.
It was renamed The Kabin and Rita (played by Barbara Knox, now aged 84) became the manager - a role she held for more than three decades. She advertised for staff and appointed dithering Mavis Riley (played by Thelma Barlow) as her assistant.
The duo worked at The Kabin together for around a quarter of a century and lit up our TV screens with their often comic partnership. However, scriptwriters then had Mavis leaving the street in 1997 to move to Cumbria to run a guesthouse, bringing to an end one of Corrie's greatest partnerships.
In 1990, The Kabin relocated to its present site on Coronation Street, next to Webster's garage. Rita, having separated from Len by this time, suffered plenty of drama during her years running the shop. She moved into the flat above the shop, deeply traumatised after her evil ex, Alan Bradley, tried to kill her when she exposed him as a fraudster.
Long-suffering Rita felt unsafe in her own home, even though villainous Bradley had been knocked down by a tram in Blackpool and killed in 1989 - ironically as he chased Rita across the tracks!
Undeterred by Alan's murderous intent, Rita soon married again. Sales rep Ted Sullivan wooed her in 1992, when he came to the shop to sell confectionery products. Instead of winning the sale, he won himself a bride, after Rita said yes to his swift proposal. However, life was again cruel, as Ted died from a brain tumour just a few weeks after they wed.
In 1999, Rita gave The Kabin to her foster daughter Sharon Gaskell, offering to work as her assistant, but Sharon decided to leave Weatherfield. In an evil twist, she refused to give the shop back to Rita. Hard-hearted Sharon finally made Rita give her £40,000 to buy back The Kabin and used the money to start her new life away from the area.
Rita then employed busybody Norris Cole (played by Malcolm Hebden) as an assistant in 1999 after buying back The Kabin and opened a sub-post office there in 2000. Over the years, Norris expressed dissatisfaction about being an assistant at his age, so eventually, Rita permitted him to invest in The Kabin and he became a partner.
The most dramatic storyline occurred in 2010, when a tram veered off the tracks and crashed through The Kabin's wall, leaving Rita seriously injured and trapped in rubble for hours - she was eventually rescued. The shop was rebuilt in 2011, but without the post office.
In more recent years, Rita allowed Norris to buy out her share with the money he had been left in his older half-brother's will. The shop was briefly renamed Norris' News, but Rita felt upset, so Norris eventually renamed it The Kabin.
Rita has continued to help out, even when street newcomer Colin Callen bought the shop from Norris in 2017. However, Rita's forgetfulness led to the shop being robbed in 2017, when she forgot to lock up at the end of her shift.
Media reports in January suggested there may be a new twist in the plot in the near future, with speculation that Colin may turn out to be Norris's son. Fans are eagerly awaiting the next saga in The Kabin's story, wondering if it will become a father and son business.
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