With thanks to Daran Little’s Coronation Street: Around the Houses for all the info on the history of the even side of the street prior to 1960.
Between 1882 and 1931, Hardcastle’s Mill, a cotton maker, reigned over that side of the street and it was the proprietor, Charles Hardcastle, who was responsible for the building of two new streets to house his work force: Mawdsley Street and Coronation Street. Many of the residents were employed there (including Ena Sharples and Albert Tatlock) before the business folded at the beginning of the Great Depression. The building was bought by Jack Elliston who established a raincoat factory that survived through the Depression and the Second World War and lasted until the factory’s demolition in 1968. Characters who were employed there include Christine Hardman (who tried to commit suicide from the factory roof), Sheila Birtles, Irma Barlow, Lucille Hewitt and Bet Lynch. Between 1964 and 1968 there was a social club in the basement of the factory.
Built in 1902, the Glad Tidings Mission Hall stood beside the mill/factory. It was the sixth mission hall in Weatherfield and conducted weekly religious services. It had a chapel, hall and a vestry where the caretaker lived. It had two long-serving caretakers: Gladys Arkwright (1902-1937) and Ena Sharples (1937-1968). It remained a mainstay on the street for over sixty years but dwindling numbers amongst the congregation led to its demolition in 1968 along with the factory. Since the early 1960s, the Mission Hall had been used for over-60s clubs, children’s birthday parties and various other functions.
In a bid to modernise the show, producers decided to introduce new maisonettes on the even side of the street. They comprised of four two-storey flats and three OAP ground-floor flats. Despite housing Ken and Valerie Barlow and their twins and Ena Sharples, other than that the flats were empty and became derelict and were unpopular with the residents. The viewers were unhappy as well as now the street lacked a place for the community to interact. By early 1971 only the Barlows occupied the flats and when Valerie was electrocuted and died in the flat fire, the council decided to demolish the maisonettes which was welcomed by the residents and viewers.
Replacing the doomed maisonettes was Mark Brittain’s Mail Order Warehouse. While the warehouse itself didn’t bother residents, the noise of lorries going back and forth did. Residents who were employed here included Ivy Tilsley, Vera Duckworth, Emily Bishop, Mavis Riley, Gail Potter, Tricia Hopkins and Ken Barlow. But yet again the viewers failed to warm to the warehouse and in 1975 the place was burned down thanks to a cigarette smouldering. Employee Edna Gee was a fatality of the fire. When the fire was extinguished, there was only a gutted shell left.
A year passed before the warehouse was put to use when Londoner Mike Baldwin opened up his denim factory. Read here for an account of the factory’s history.
Built along with the warehouse in 1971 was the Community Centre. There was once again a place for the community to come together. Plays, flower shows, concerts, youth clubs, fetes and pantomimes were held in the community centre over its 18 year history. Ena Sharples was the original caretaker until 1975 when cleaners took over the realms while Ena stayed put in the flat. Newlyweds Fred and Eunice Gee became caretakers in 1981 but didn’t last long. Pensioner Percy Sugden took up the post in 1983 and became the street’s latest busybody. In 1988, Percy was forced to retire and within a few months the bulldozers moved in under the orders of Maurice Jones who’d bought the site and the centre and Baldwin’s factory were knocked down.
In their place came three houses, three shop units, a few flats, a garage and a factory. The layout has stayed unchanged for over 20 years and is the longest lasting set-up on the even side of the street. Rita Fairclough bought one shop unit and relocated her paper shop ‘The Kabin’ from Rosamund Street. The shop remains to this day with Norris Cole now proprietor.
Another shop unit was bought by the Weatherfield Hospital Volunteer Group as a charity shop with Emily Bishop as manageress. By the end of 1990 the business had folded and in 1992 the shop was bought by hairdresser Denise Osbourne. Then in 1995 the business was taken over by Fiona Middleton and in 1998 by Audrey Roberts who still runs the business now. There is a flat above the salon. Since 2000, the unit behind the salon has been a cab office called ‘Street Cars’ that has been owned by Steve McDonald and various others like Vikram Desai, Dev Alahan and Lloyd Mullaney. There’s also a flat above the cab office.
The garage unit has been in the hands of the likes of Don Brennan and Mike Baldwin but for many years now the place has been owned by Kevin Webster.
The factory unit has been in the hands of Steve and Vicky McDonald before Mike Baldwin took over the ownership and established a knicker factory. Since Mike’s death, the factory has been owned by Danny Baldwin, Adam Barlow, Liam Connor, Paul Connor and Frank Foster. Since 2006, Carla Connor has been in charge. The three houses (numbered 4, 6 and 8) have had various inhabitants, with Gail Tilsley/Platt/Hillman/Platt/McIntyre being the only one who’s lived there the longest.
The even side of the street has seen much change in the last 50 years, is it time for another?
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