Anyone who’s anyone on Coronation Street spends their time in the Rovers Return Inn.
It’s had many different owners and managers over the Street’s 58 years on screen, none more legendary than Annie Walker or Bet Lynch.
More recently the Connors have taken over the place and have continued to uphold the standards of drama on both sides of the bar most nights of the week.
Here’s a rundown of everyone who’s ever run the Rovers:
Jack and Annie Walker 1937-1970
Jack and Annie Walker (Arthur Leslie and Doris Speed) ran the Rovers Return together when the show began in 1960. In fact, they’d owned the tenancy on the pub since 1937, and were already stalwarts of the Street.
The couple were inseparable until Jack died in 1970 while they were on holiday. He died off screen due to the sudden death of Arthur Leslie in real life, leaving Annie alone to run the Rovers.
Annie Walker 1970-1984
Considered by many to be the best landlady of them all, Annie was known to be snobbish with a vicious tongue that took no prisoners and stood for no nonsense.
She was friends with her staff, especially Bet Lynch and Betty Turpin, and got on well with the brewery, but she struggled to cope with the tenancy once Jack had passed away and in 1984 she decided to go and live with her daughter, Joan, in Derby.
She didn’t tell her regulars in person, preferring to just slip away, leaving her son, Billy, in charge…
Billy Walker 1984
Wayward Billy (Ken Farrington) was not what you’d call the best landlord the pub had ever had.
Annie left him in charge of the tenancy in exchange for paying off his mountain of debts, but it wasn’t exactly something he wanted to do, and instead of taking it seriously, he celebrated by holding illegal lock ins.
Eventually, Newton and Ridely, unhappy with the way the place was being run, bought the tenancy back from the Walkers in 1984 and Billy left Weatherfield for good.
Bet Lynch 1985-1987
Bet Lynch (Julie Goodyear) had been a barmaid under Annie since 1970, and had helped Billy out of numerous messes, so when Newton and Ridley decided not to re-sell the tenancy of the Rovers, but instead hire a manager, Bet applied.
She didn’t think she had any chance being a single woman, but the Rovers regulars loved her so much they signed a petition insisting she get the job and in 1985, she was hired.
But a year later tragedy struck when the pub was gutted by fire. Once the place reopened, Bet struggled to bring back trade and the brewery eventually decided to sell the licence again to raise funds.
Bet couldn’t afford to buy it, but Alec Gilroy (Roy Barraclough), who ran the nearby Graffiti Club and with whom she had become friendly, lent her the money and she officially became landlady.
However, panicking about the pressure of keeping up with the repayments, Bet fled and was found by Alec in Torremolinos three months later.
Bet and Alec Gilroy 1987-1992
After tracking her down to Spain, Alec proposed he and Bet got married so she could continue to run the Rovers and not worry about the debt.
Not the most romantic of proposals, but Bet agreed and the pair were wed a year later.
Things ticked along until 1992 when Alec was offered his dream job in Southampton. Bet agreed to go at first and Newton and Ridley bought back the licence, but Bet found she couldn’t leave and Alec departed alone.
Bet Gilroy 1992-1995
The brewery took Bet back on as manageress, but in 1995 decided they wanted to sell the whole pub and Bet could not afford to buy it.
She begged her friend Rita Tanner (Barbara Knox) to lend her the cash and though Rita was tempted, she refused the offer.
Next, Bet asked stepgranddaughter Vicky Arden to loan her the funds, but Vicky felt it was a bad investment and offered to buy her a house to rent instead.
Bet shunned the offer and, after packing her suitcase, left Weatherfield with no idea where she was heading.
Jack and Vera Duckworth 1995-1997
With the pub up for sale Jack and Vera Duckworth (Bill Tarmey and Liz Dawn) found themselves competing with Liz and Jim McDonald. When Jack’s brother died and left him a huge inheritance, and then the Duckworths sold their house, they were able to come up with the cash quicker than the McDonalds and the Rovers was theirs.
Vera became the licensee as Jack had a criminal record and she finally felt she had some social status.
But things quickly went wrong when a tax bill arrived for £17,000 that the Duckworths couldn’t pay.
Jack and Vera Duckworth and Alec Gilroy 1997-1998
As a result of their money troubles, Jack and Vera were forced to take on a returning Alec as a business partner.
After conning them into selling half their share originally, they eventually handed over the rest of the Rovers and Alec kept them on as live-in staff.
Natalie Barnes 1998-2000
Alec decided he’d had enough of Weatherfield in 1998 and sold the pub to Natalie Barnes (Denise Welch).
Natalie was grieving the death of her husband of less than a month, Des Barnes, and wanted a fresh start. She kicked the Duckworths out and redecorated.
But drama was never far behind Natalie and after the death of her son, Tony Horrocks, and her new love Vinny Sorrell having an affair with her sister, Natalie decided her time on the cobbles was up.
Pregnant with Vinny’s child and wanting a fresh start, Natalie sold the pub and left for a new life in the Cotswolds.
Mike Baldwin, Fred Elliott and Duggie Ferguson 2000-2001
Natalie was planning to sell to a pub chain who wanted to rename the iconic Rovers ‘The Boozy Newt’.
Aghast at the prospect of their local boozer becoming unrecognisable, three local businessmen – Mike Baldwin (Johnny Briggs), Fred Elliott (John Savident) and Duggie Ferguson (John Bowe) teamed up to buy the watering hole together.
Liz was installed as manager for a short time, then Mike’s wife Linda took over, but it was Duggie, the only one with previous experience, that ended up doing all the work. Fed up, he managed to con Mike and Fred to sell their shares to a bogus company, that he secretly owned.
Duggie Ferguson 2001
After gaining sole control of the pub, Duggie became landlord. But he didn’t want it for long, having bigger aspirations when Weatherfield Rugby Club came up for sale.
He needed cash quickly and auctioned off the Rovers for £76,000 to Fred Elliott.
Eve Elliott 2001-2002
Fred had bought the pub for his new wife Eve Elliott (Melanie Kilburn), but they didn’t live in Rovers bliss for long when it was revealed Eve was a bigamist.
She left Fred for her original husband Ray Skyes, and had no legal claim on the Rovers as everything was in the name ‘Eve Elliott’, which wasn’t her name as the marriage was invalid.
Fred Elliott 2002-2006
After Eve’s departure, butcher Fred became the sole licensee. He wasn’t interested in actually running the pub though and installed Shelley Unwin (Sally Lindsay) as manager.
Shelley suffered with agoraphobia following a nervous breakdown, making being in charge of a busy boozer very difficult. However she recovered and continued to bring the money in for Fred.
But Fred decided he was going to move away with soon-to-be wife Bev Unwin (Susie Blake), Shelley’s mum. He agreed to sell the pub to Steve, but collapsed and died on his wedding day to Bev before any paperwork was signed.
Ashley Peacock 2006
As the deal was never done, Fred’s son Ashley (Steven Arnold) became owner of the Rovers.
He promptly completed the deal with Steve as Fred had planned.
Steve and Liz McDonald 2006-2011
Although Steve (Simon Gregson) bought the Rovers, with his criminal record he couldn’t hold the licence so his mother Liz (Beverly Callard) stepped in and became landlady – something she had always dreamed of.
But Steve took out loans against the pub and ran it into debt, leaving Liz desperate to buy her son out. Ex-husband Jim (Charlie Lawson) returned and promised the money, but he didn’t really have it and ended up trying to rob a building society to get it.
Her dream in tatters, Liz lost the love for running the Rovers and departed without telling Steve.
Steve McDonald 2011-2012
Steve was left in the lurch when Liz went as neither he nor then-wife Becky McDonald (Katherine Kelly) were able to hold the licence due to their criminal records.
Forced to hire someone, Steve brought in Stella Price (Michelle Collins) as licensee and manager. He wasn’t banking on her bringing her boyfriend Karl Munro (John Michie) and daughter Eva Price (Catherine Tyldesley) with her, but was forced to go along with it.
Stella Price and Karl Munro 2011-2013
With Steve changing his women more often than his socks, he found himself in a relationship with Tracy Barlow in 2011 and wanted to buy no.13 for them to live in, while focusing on his other business Streetcars.
Stella was offered first refusal and after she and Karl were approved for a mortgage, they bought the boozer off Steve.
Karl wasn’t keen on the workload though, and soon began an affair with barmaid Sunita Alahan (Shobna Gulati) to work out his frustrations.
When Stella found out, she kicked him to the curb and demanded he sign his half of the Rovers over to her.
Stella Price 2013
Now with full ownership, Stella moved on from Karl with Jason Grimshaw. Jealous Karl however, was determined to spoil things and ended up starting a fire in the pub to frame Jason for arson.
While Owen Armstrong began fixing the damage, Stella discovered the insurance company weren’t going to pay out. She couldn’t afford to pay it herself, so offered Owen half of the pub as payment.
He wasn’t keen, so Stella’s mum Gloria Price (Sue Johnston) stepped in and stumped up the £80K. She gloated this now made her part-owner.
When Stella discovered Karl had set the fire, she decided enough was enough and she was going to leave Weatherfield for good.
Liz and Steve McDonald 2013-2015
Steve decided to buy back the pub from Stella, but this time he couldn’t afford it on his own, so asked mum Liz to come back and help out, but he failed to tell current girlfriend Michelle Connor (Kym Marsh) who he planned to make landlady.
Michelle wasn’t overly happy when he revealed he’d bought them the pub, but warmed to the idea of running the place.
However, her smile turned upside down when Liz walked back in and revealed she was co-owner and she and Michelle were joint landladies.
Michelle wasn’t happy, but eventually agreed they could work together.
Liz McDonald and Tony Stewart 2015
Liz’s boyfriend Tony Stewart (Terence Maynard) was having an affair with Tracy and had decided he wanted to get the pub off the McDonalds.
He had lent Steve money, which he pretended he needed back desperately in order to convince Steve to sign his share of the pub over to ‘Travis Limited’ – which was actually Tony’s business. He then tried to con Liz into signing her share over too – promising they’d start a new life together elsewhere.
But Carla Connor (Alison King) offered to buy the pub instead and keep Steve and Michelle as licensees – which Liz agreed to.
But just before Carla and Liz signed the deal, Liz discovered what Tony was up to and decided to keep her half of the pub. She then found herself working with her ex…
Liz and Steve McDonald 2015-2017
Wanting to patch things up with Liz, Tony worked hard to win her forgiveness while they worked together in the pub.
But Liz told him the only way he could get her back properly was to sign Steve’s share of the Rovers back to him, which Tony agreed to do, before proposing to Liz in front of the whole pub.
She turned him down, revealing she was leading him on to get her boozer back and kicked him out on his ear.
Peter Barlow and Toyah Battersby 2017-2018
2017 wasn’t a good year for Michelle, who lost her baby with Steve, Ruairi, at 23 weeks and then discovered Steve had fathered a love child with Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson). ‘Chelle ended their marriage for good and demanded he sell his half of the Rovers and split it with her as part of the divorce settlement.
Liz decided she didn’t want to co-own with a stranger so opted to sell her share too.
It was quite a shock when recovering alcoholic Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne) bought the pub and decided to run it with then-girlfriend Toyah Battersby (Georgia Taylor).
But their ownership didn’t last long when Toyah lied to Peter about their baby Susie being their’s (born of a surrogate) when actually she was Eva Price and Aidan Connor’s little one.
Jenny and Jenny Connor 2018-
After Peter found out about Toyah’s betrayal he punished her by selling the pub and leaving her homeless and jobless.
Johnny Connor decided to buy it as it was the last place he had seen his late son, Aidan, before the latter took his own life.
Along with wife Jenny, they conned the residents of Weatherfield into thinking they were transforming it into a hip and trendy gastro pub, but actually when the ‘makeover’ was revealed the place looked exactly the same and they explained they were keeping it as it was.
They currently run the Rovers, but for how long?
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