Day 16 of our 50 day countdown of Coronation Street - written by blogger Sunny Jim.
1976 saw the arrival of one of the world’s greatest cultural icons, Hilda Ogden’s ‘muriel’. Eddie Yeats was in need of lodgings and approached Hilda about moving into her back bedroom. Hilda agreed to the proposal on the condition that Eddie help Stan redecorate her back parlour. Ever the scheming wheeler-dealer, Eddie acquired a job lot of old wallpaper buy halfway through hanging it, discovered that four of the rolls were faded because it was old stock. Hilda was furious about her ruined room but Eddie came to the rescue when he got hold of a wallpaper mural of the Canadian Rockies. Hilda was instantly smitten and invited all the neighbours round to view the scene. Annie Walker had this to say: ‘You know dear, I feel just a little giddy. Would you mind if I sat facing the other way until I’m acclimatised?’ 2 years later the mountain scene was replaced by a seascape after Stan let the bath overflow and it was damaged by water.
This year saw the last appearance of Minnie Caldwell. Minnie was quiet and timid and was always being bossed around by her friend Ena Sharples, who she was regularly to be found with in the Snug at the Rovers Return drinking milk stout along with Martha Longhurst. Though Minnie once said of Ena "She bullies me. She always has... in the name of Christianity", they were always there for each other and whenever Ena was ill, or was unable or unwilling to live at the Mission, Minnie provided her with a bed. Minnie lived round the corner from Coronation Street at 15 Jubilee Terrace, but when her bed-ridden mother died in 1962 at the ripe old age of 94, she decided she could no longer live there and with the help of Leonard Swindley, who spoke to the landlord and agreed a fair rent, she moved in to no. 5.
Having retired from Earnshaw's Mill in 1960, Minnie began to take in lodgers to help supplement her pension. Many came and went, some staying a few days, others years, but her favourites were petty crook Jed Stone and failed comic Charlie Moffitt. Jed came and went but he finally left when he was sentenced to 18 months in Walton. Despite never returning, Jed's place in Minnie's heart was reaffirmed when Bobby disappeared and was replaced by a stray found up on the viaduct, which Minnie called 'Sunny Jim' - though she later re-named him Bobby.
Having stopped taking in lodgers, Minnie's biggest worry continued to be money, both the lack of it and decimalisation. Albert Tatlock thought that he had the answer to both their money problems and popped the question. Minnie was quite keen on the idea as long as Albert moved into No. 5, but insisted that he ask Ena's permission first, as is only right and proper. Ena got the wrong end of the stick and accepted Albert's proposal on her own behalf. Minnie and Albert came to an understanding, but then Ena told them that they wouldn't be better off financially as they had thought and although Albert was still willing to go through with the marriage if Minnie was, his irritating habits, like drinking his tea from a saucer, had started to get on her nerves and so they called it off. Jed Stone's Walton cell-mate, Eddie Yeats, turned up on her doorstep and out of friendship for her old lodger, she took him in but Minnie's health was deteriorating and after meeting up again with Handel Gartside, she finally retired with Bobby to Whaley Bridge to keep house for him.
"I know folk think I'm simple. What I say to them is that I'd rather be simple and 'ave my pleasures than know everything and be miserable, like Ena."
Also in 1976: Stan Ogden and Albert Tatlock get locked in the Rovers’ cellar; Renee Bradshaw buys the corner shop; Elsie Howard returns; Mike Baldwin arrives and sets up a factory; Mavis Riley meets Derek Wilton; Bill Podmore starts work as producer with the promise to introduce more comedy; Gail Potter falls for Roy Thornley who turns out to be married.