The iconic building that became known to millions of viewers as the Crossroads Motel from the sixties to the eighties is in the process of being demolished.
The show, which saw ratings of 18 million at its peak, was set in a Midlands Motel and the village of Kings Oak. While the motel and village were fictional television creations, the locations were real places. Unlike ATV’s Honey Lane – which was built on the backlot of ATV Elstree (current home of BBC One’s EastEnders) – Crossroads’ outside scenes were all done on location shoots.
Tanworth-In-Arden in Warwickshire was transformed into the Kings Oak village setting for the show, while Walford Hall and its surrounding buildings became the exterior for the Crossroads Motel.
Fans of the award winning – if at times wobbly saga – have been left in mourning as the iconic chalet block – really part of the Walford and North Shropshire College – has started to crumble at the hands of a demolition team – to be replaced with a £500,000 engineering diploma centre.
However it’s not all bad news, the building which was seen the most in the ATV Network produced serial is to survive. Lucy Evans, college spokeswoman, told The Shropshire Star newspaper:
“The old teaching block is being demolished but the main entrance to the ‘motel’ is staying put.”
As well as being used for motel scenes, the outer buildings of the college – formerly known as the Shropshire Farm Institute – were also used for other ‘Kings Oak’ farming and rural locations. The exact location however has remained a mystery to fans for over 45 years. ATV and the college never revealed its television fame at the time the show was on air to avoid disruption to the education facility. There were concerns keen fans may trample up to the college to catch a glimpse of their favourite characters in action.
Earlier this year the Crossroads Appreciation Society finally re-discovered the location. Fan John Drury, who was originally from Telford but now lives in Sheffield, told the newspaper:
“The society has spent a long time researching the other locations but feared the most famous of all was lost to developers. In May this year I decided to expand the search and after a lot of searching, reading and looking at Google Street View I found that the college was the location. A static image of the college was used almost every day and once I found the location, the site manager showed me round and I took some photographs. None of the students knew of their link with TV fame, but some of the staff did.”
It is believed Walford Hall was used in the show from 1965 to 1981 when the motel burned down. Outside scenes there after relocated first to the Golden Valley Hotel in Cheltenham and later Penns Hall Hotel in Sutton Coldfield.
“Unfortunately when the show ended in 1988 many of the production documents were destroyed. Of course this would never happen today, but at the time archiving of such material wasn’t deemed important. So as time went on only the college themselves knew of their previous television fame.” Helen Jones of the ATV Network archive told us.
The other famous feature of the opening shot also survives, as Mike Garrett of the Crossroads Appreciation Society, the official Central TV fan club for the soap, told us: “The red Crossroads Motel sign was bought from the production company in 1988 when all the props were auctioned off. It has been part of the fan club’s archive ever since.”
Crossroads ran on ITV from November 2nd 1964 to April 4th 1988, while mocked by some critics the show made a number of television firsts with ground breaking storylines. Its leading lady Noele Gordon became an international star through her role as Meg Richardson. Fans of the show included Bob Monkhouse and Prince Philip. Carlton Television tried to remake the series in the 2000s however it proved unpopular with many viewers and ITV Management.
The original episodes have however found a new lease of life on DVD. Over 20 volumes and two box sets have been released.
“Over 300 episodes are now out on DVD. You’ll be surprised to know that in all those episodes the sets only wobble twice.” Adds Mike Garrett of the fan club.