Sooty puppeteer Peter Corbett is selling his Lymm cottage

PUBLISHED: 12:11 02 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:29 02 June 2020

Peter Corbett's canalside cottage in Lymm is just picture perfect
Photo: Bobby Shahlavi @ Gascoigne Halman Lymm

Peter Corbett's canalside cottage in Lymm is just picture perfect Photo: Bobby Shahlavi @ Gascoigne Halman Lymm

Archant

A brush with coronavirus has persuaded Peter Corbett, of Sooty and Sweep fame, to move from Lymm’s most photographed cottage

Sally and Peter Corbett, with their dog Alfie, outside their pretty canalside cottage in Lymm
Credit: Bobby Shahlavi @ Gascoigne Halman LymmSally and Peter Corbett, with their dog Alfie, outside their pretty canalside cottage in Lymm Credit: Bobby Shahlavi @ Gascoigne Halman Lymm

You may know Peter Corbett better by his stage name, Matthew Corbett, the much put-upon and endlessly patient housemate of puppets Sooty, Sweep and Soo. The glove puppet bear, with his bright yellow fur and sooty ears, was created by his father, Harry Corbett, and first seen on air in 1952. In 1975 Peter took on the mantle from Harry, and enjoyed two decades with the furry trio, before selling the rights in 1996 and eventually retiring in 1998.

In 1994 he bought a canalside cottage in Lymm, the result of a series of serendipitous events that have brought him more than two decades of joy.

“We filmed all the Sooty shows at the Granada TV studios in Manchester,” Peter says. “My wife Sally and I were heavily into narrow-boating, canals and that whole thing, and we had just bought a narrowboat, which we took delivery of and moored at Castlefield, so I lived on it during filming. We were aware that retirement was heading towards us and we just wished we could find somewhere on a canal. At the end of filming that series we set off to take the boat to Peterborough, by water, which means travelling through Lymm. As we passed through it wasn’t the house that caught our eye, it was the cobbled street that runs down towards the canal and Sally said, ‘what a beautiful village, we should come back and have a look at it when we’ve got more time.’ We made a mental note and the next time we could, we did. We walked over the bridge across the canal and lo and behold there was a sign on the house below that said it was for sale. I said to Sally ‘I want it, I want it, I want it...’ because it fulfilled everything we’d talked about – in a village, with the canal and a beautiful house.”

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Peter and Sally bought the house for £180,000 and immediately set about renovations.

“We then spent a lot more than that, doing the house up,” Peter laughs. “Everything was brought up to top quality; we gutted the house completely – new electrics, plumbing, heating, the works. The back garden just looked like just like a copybook colliery. It was an astounding time and it took about nine months. We rebuilt the house, moved into it and have had 20 of the most wonderful, glorious, fabulous years here.”

This summer, Peter, now 71, and his wife have decided to leave Lymm, and their much-loved cottage, to move closer to their children in the south of England, following Peter’s frightening experience with coronavirus.

“I caught corona,” he says. “I was in Warrington General Hospital for 10 nights and have been told since that it was touch and go as to whether I would survive. As a result of the coronavirus I then got pneumonia, which led to atrial fibrillation. It was much worse for my family than for me. They were terrified, they thought I wasn’t coming out of hospital. It’s been a wake-up call. Seven weeks later I still get so out of breath and am so weak, and I just cannot deal with this house. I can’t mow the lawn, it’s too big, and I can’t carry down the shopping... We’re moving to a retirement village in Horsham, in West Sussex, where everything is on the doorstep. It’s close to our children and to Gatwick, so we shall have the best of all worlds.”

Proximity to an airport is just one of the things Peter has loved about life in Lymm.

Peter Corbett's canalside cottage has the perfect cottage kitchen within
Photo: Bobby Shahlavi @ Gascoigne Halman LymmPeter Corbett's canalside cottage has the perfect cottage kitchen within Photo: Bobby Shahlavi @ Gascoigne Halman Lymm

“We love to travel, and it makes such a difference being able to get a taxi to the airport and not to have to worry about parking and such. Living in Lymm has been just fantastic and the social life has been a whirl. We’ve enjoyed some great restaurants, we eat out a lot, maybe four times a week, and I think the restaurant business will note our leaving. I just love the feeling of there being communities within the community, like Lymm Historic Transport Day, which is a wonderful occasion every year – except sadly not this year, of course. And we’re in a superb location to watch and to be involved in all these events – we’re raised up in the back garden and can see all the boats as they come through.

“Everything has been just so wonderful and it’s such a wrench; I came home today, and the sign had gone up, so that’s full circle now. It’s all horrendously complicated, but I want it done quickly – like pulling a plaster off. Who knows? I hope so, I think the price we’re asking... well, I’d buy it!”

The cottage is for sale, for £750,000, through Gascoigne Halman Lymm.

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