‘May Blackpool’s Lights never fail to shine’ - Violet Carson

Sixty years ago, Blackpool’s own, much-loved actress Violet Carson switched on the Illuminations in a star-studded ceremony alongside her fellow Coronation Street stars. The Gazette reported on September 4 1961 how proud she was on that day...

Thursday, 9th September 2021, 3:45 pm
Violet Carson , who played Ena Sharples in Coronation Street, flicks the switch to light up Blackpool in 1961
Violet Carson , who played Ena Sharples in Coronation Street, flicks the switch to light up Blackpool in 1961

The liveliest, happiest, most colourful, most successful ever.

This to judge from their enthusiasm, was the unanimous verdict of the huge crowds that packed Blackpool’s Talbot Square for the switch on of the 1962 Illuminations. The ceremony was performed on behalf of Granada’s ‘Coronation Street’ series by Blackpool’s own Violet Carson.

They had the double pleasure of seeing the guest of honour perform a quick Jekyll and Hyde transformation from an elegantly gowned Miss Carson to Ena, complete with old raincoat and hairnet.

Coronation Street Stars paddling in Blackpool in 1961. Elsie Tanner (Patricia Phoenix ) Ena Sharples (Violet Carson ) Martha Longhurst (Lynne Carol ) Minnie Caldwell (Margot Bryant ) Dorothy (Dot) Greenhalgh (Joan Francis)

The fun started early in the evening hours after the first of the crowds had secured their places in the front row by the crush barriers.

As the last daylight of a beautiful evening faded over the Irish Sea representatives of 20 Commonwealth countries in Britain for the Commonwealth Parliamentary conference, took their seats on the platform in front of the Town Hall. It was a beautifully gowned Violet Carson who stood up to acknowledge the ovation of the crowds. Wearing a dress of grey satin and a coat of silver lame she carried a bouquet of pink carnations.

“This is the proudest moment of my life,” she said, “as a resident of Blackpool for many years I have watched the Lights wax and wane over the town year in, year out. The fact that my name is to be added to the list of illustrious people who have switched on these Lights is an honour I deeply appreciate. It has always been a source of amazement for me, these crowds of people who come along to see the Lights. The countless, dauntless, valiant people who come from little streets all over the world to enjoy themselves.”

The cast of Coronation Street get ready for their outing to Blackpool for the switch on of the town's Illuminations. PIctured left to right: William Roache (Ken Barlow), Betty Alberge (Florrie Lindley), Daphne Oxenford (Esther Hayes), Anne Reid (Valerie Tatlock), Ivan Beavis (Harry Hewitt), Margot Bryant ( Minnie Caldwell), Frank Pemberton (Frank Barlow), Arthur Leslie (Jack Walker ) Doreen Keogh (Concepta Riley), Philip Lowrie (Dennis Tanner) Christine Hargreaves (Christine Hardman) . On the steps Ernst Walder (Ivan Cheveski), Peter Adamson (Len Fairclough)