MUCH has been made of the 50th anniversary of the country’s longest-running soap, Coronation Street, with the dramatic tram crash drawing in huge audience figures just before Christmas.
But while the show was still in its infancy its actors were drawing in huge crowds at Birkenshaw Show when they were invited to crown the show queen in 1962 and 1963.
These photographs have been kindly loaned to us by journalist Stephen White who runs a website featuring the work of the late photographer Leslie Overend.
Leslie snapped the photographs when he was covering Birkenshaw Show for local newspapers and they feature Corrie actress Pat Phoenix who was the guest star both years.
In 1962, when Coronation Street had only been running for two years, Pat - who played the feisty Elsie Tanner - came along with Doris Speed and Arthur Leslie, who played Annie and Jack Walker, licensees of the Rovers Return.
The following year Pat returned, this time accompanied by Jennifer Moss, who played Lucille Hewitt, and Christine Hargreaves, who played Christine Appleby.
The Spenborough Guardian of the time reports that record crowds of more than 20,000 flocked to the 1962 show, smashing all previous attendance records.
It was also the first time that it had been held on the 14-acre Brown Hill Farm site at Old Lane.
The show had come a long way since its inception 17 years earlier, when it was held on the local football pitch. From there it moved to Bradford Road but when that land was needed for the new Birkenshaw secondary modern school, it moved to Oakroyd Hall.
Another site was then sought as Oakroyd was developed by the fire service as its headquarters, so local farmer Jack Brown, the Birkenshaw Show president, stepped in to offer the use of his land.
The huge new site and the chance to meet Corrie celebrities were undoubtedly the reasons for the large crowds who watched as Pat Phoenix crowned show queen Hazel Twitchett.
A year later she was back to hand over the crown from Hazel to the new queen, 16-year-old Ann Waggott of Gomersal.
To see more of Leslie Overend’s catalogue of photographs taken during his long and distinguished career visit www.leslieoverend.com