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Coronation Street

Up to date as of January 31, 2010

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Len Fairclough
Occupation Builder
Born 5th November 1924
Birthplace Liverpool
Died 7th December 1983
Father Ned Fairclough
Mother Grace Fairclough
Spouse(s) Nellie Briggs (1949)
Rita Fairclough (1977)
Children Stanley Fairclough {1950)
First appearance 1st February 1961
Last appearance 11th May 1983
Duration 1961-1983
Played by Peter Adamson

Leonard "Len" Fairclough, builder and councillor, was the epitome of the working class Northern male of the middle part of the 20th century. Hard working and hard drinking, Len was twice married, though Elsie Tanner, perhaps his one true love, turned down his offer of marriage.

Contents

Biography

Early life

Len Fairclough was born in Liverpool at the height of the depression, his family moving to Weatherfield when he was a boy. A contemporary of Len's at school was Elsie Grimshaw, and Len developed a lifelong friendship with the future Mrs Tanner. Indeed, when Handel Gartside returned to the area in 1970 after an absence of nearly 30 years he remembered Len primarily in association with Elsie. Len left school at 14 to become an apprentice bricklayer. He eventually escaped to sea, serving in the navy during the second World War. During his time on active service Len served with the Russian Convoys, protecting the cargo ships carrying supplies across Arctic seas.

Upon returning to civilian life Len settled in Weatherfield. He found work with Birtwhistle's Construction as a carpenter and settled into a comfortable life. Along with his friend Harry Hewitt, Len would often spend the evening entertaining young women; and one of these, Nellie Briggs, Len eventually married on 12th July 1949 despite her originally being Harry's date. The Faircloughs soon became a family when Len's only child Stanley was born on 8th June 1950.

The early 1960s - a time of change

By the early 1960s Len was settled and content with his life. Days would be spent working and evenings drinking with Harry in the Rovers Return. Len was the best man at Harry's wedding to Concepta Riley in 1961 and was considered by the new Mrs. Hewitt as being a bad influence on her husband who she expected to spend more time at home after he was married. Long-term it was Len who was to suffer the consequences of his life style.

Len's settled existence was to change in 1962 when his wife Nellie decided it was time to end their marriage. Feeling Len treated her like a servant more than a wife and expected her to cook and clean whilst he spent the evening drinking, she abandoned him, taking their son with him.

It was around this time that Elsie Tanner's children both moved away from home leaving her also to seek company away from home. She and Len spent many evenings together and soon came to an arrangement whereby Elsie would help Len around the home, cooking and cleaning for him. In return Len skipped work to install a new fireplace for Elsie. Shocked by this behaviour Martha Longhurst, a neighbour, reported Len to his bosses and he was dismissed shortly afterwards.

After Concepta Hewitt told Len she thought his relationship with Elsie was an insult to Nellie, Len got into a fight with his friend Harry. Elsie announced that despite people's impressions she was not actually Len's lover, just a friend. She also stopped helping Len around the house and shortly afterwards Nellie returned to Len. It was a short reconciliation though, lasting less than a year.

After setting himself up as a builder, leasing a yard near his home at 15 Mawdsley Street to work out of, Len took on an apprentice; local boy Jerry Booth. He found himself increasingly jealous of the men in Elsie's life, such as sailor Bill Gregory, and betting shop owner Dave Smith. Unable to resist mocking Dave when he saw him in the Rovers with Elsie, Len reacted violently when Dave confronted him. He was arrested and charged with assault; this public humiliation was what ultimately ended Fairclough's first marriage. Humiliated that Len had been fighting over another woman, Nellie abandoned him for good, leaving for a new life in Nottingham with Stanley and Harry Bailey, the insurance agent.

Single again

Len's temper often resulted in his getting into trouble. He had fought with neighbour Ken Barlow over an article criticising the habits of the working classes, had been suspected of vandalising Ena Sharples' home after she'd refused permission to use the Mission of Glad Tidings for a children's party, and had caused his neighbours to shun him when an argument with bus conductor Johnny Alexander lost Johnny his job.

When divorce proceedings began, he started to court Elsie Tanner properly then swiftly proposed. She turned him down on 22nd November 1963, believing that they would soon grow to despise each other.

Len was contracted to work on the stairs at the Viaduct Street Social Club, building a staircase so poorly that the club's cleaner Minnie Caldwell injured herself. Len found himself paying fifty pounds compensation.

In 1964 Nellie passed away, and Len again proposed to Elsie, suggesting they provide a home for Stanley. A chaste trial-marriage lasted less than a weekend before the pair realised they couldn't live together. His relationship with Elsie took a turn for the worse when she asked him for help after she had abandoned Robert Maxwell after he had had a heart attack. A blazing row ensued, with Len insulting Elsie saying "You're nothing but Paint and Mush, Elsie Tanner!" Despite this Len was to support Elsie when, years later, Robert's widow Moira Maxwell made a series of obscene phone calls to Elsie. When Elsie confronted Moira about that, Moira attacked her with a knife. Len stepped in and saved her. Almost inevitably Len found himself attracted to Elsie once more, and in 1966, despite stepping out with Brenda Riley, he ended up sparring with Jim Mount over the way he treated Elsie, seeing other women at the same time as her.

At around this time Len made Jerry Booth, who had spent some time away from the area trying to save his marriage, a partner in his firm. One of the firm's first big jobs was for Newton & Ridley, a major local brewer. To help handle such a major contract the firm employed Ray Langton, but the contract was terminated after Jerry was injured in an accident and the sub-standard scaffolding Len had used was found to be at fault. Len was later to discover that Ray had attempted to rape Lucille Hewitt, daughter of his old friend Harry. Len assaulted Ray and forced him to leave the area.

Councillor Fairclough

Len entered local politics in 1966, elected on a policy backing slum clearances. He defeated local publican Annie Walker at the hustings. When Paul Cheveski, Elsie's six-year old grandchild, wandered off and fell in the canal, Len provided Elsie with emotional support. However, when it was discovered that one of Len's first votes as a councillor was to oppose a plan to fence off the canals, Elsie held him responsible for Paul's near-death. Ivan Cheveski, the boy's father, attempted to physically assault Len as a result of this, but held back when he learnt his son was well.

Len's council work often meant he had to make hard decisions; he found himself unpopular amongst his neighbours as a result, such as in 1968 when the local Glad Tidings Mission Hall was scheduled for demolition.

After a brief affair with social worker Ruth Winter, Len was briefly persuaded to provide a job for Elsie's son Dennis Tanner, a decision that led to Dennis burning Len's kitchen whilst decorating it. Dennis' replacement was no better: Stan Ogden injured his back on the first day, resulting in hospitalisation.

Len's reputation for violent action led to his being considered prime suspect when Elsie's wartime sweetheart Steve Tanner was attacked. Steve sought revenge, only to learn from Elsie that Len was innocent, that it was in fact a case of mistaken identity and the attacker had thought he was someone else.

In mid-1967 Len invested £300 of Fairclough & Booth's money in an ill-fated property deal. To prevent anything like that happening again, Jerry insisted on restructuring the company, forming a limited company with the pair as equal partners.

Stanley Fairclough returned to Weatherfield and started working for his father. An accident led to Stanley being trapped in the yard whilst it was on fire and Len almost lost his life attempting to rescue him. Stanley realised he was not happy and returned to Nottingham. A worse accident was to follow when Harry Hewitt was killed attempting to repair Len's van. The pair had been driving to Elsie and Steve Tanner's wedding when the van broke down. During repair work the jack failed and the van crushed Harry to death.

Fairclough & Booth landed another large contract building a group of maisonettes on Coronation Street. During this work Stan Ogden almost caused a major accident and lost his job. Released from jail and attempting to turn over a new leaf, Ray Langton was re-employed in Stan's place. To expand the business Len knocked down his home on 15 Mawdsley Street and moved into 9 Coronation Street.

The end of Len and Elsie?

Perhaps the most serious event of the late 1960s for Len was his questioning by the police over the death of Steve Tanner. Although he didn't disguise his dislike of Steve or the way he treated Elsie, he claimed not to be involved in Steve's death. The police were unable to press charges, but he remained one of the prime suspects until the killer came to light. Elsie's lingering suspicions that Len had murdered her husband caused a rift between the pair.

A growing attraction for shopkeeper Maggie Clegg led Len to propose that she move in with him, but she refused. Ena Sharples attempted to use his relationship with Maggie to blackmail Len into voting a certain way in an upcoming council vote, but to no avail as the relationship was a platonic one and the pair had done nothing that would jeopardise his council seat. However he did get emotionally involved with Town Hall clerk Janet Reid who felt Len was too keen and smothered her with his attentions. Len had become besotted and attempted to borrow £300 from publican Jack Walker so that the couple could settle down together. Janet ended the affair and Len blamed Elsie and slapped her, only to be reprimanded by Jack. Jack revealed that it was actually Elsie who had provided the £300. Len sold his van and tracked down Elsie to repay her. She told him their friendship was finally at an end.

Into the 1970s

Len began the new decade torn between two potential lovers, Maggie Clegg and Anita Reynolds. Though he proposed to Anita, he had a change of heart when he discovered that she was young enough to be his daughter. A reconciliation of sorts then followed with Elsie, with Len acting as witness to her third marriage.

Len briefly employed Gina Fletcher as housekeeper, despite her lack of skills. He sacked her when he found she had invited her boyfriend around during the day. He also prevented former political rival Annie Walker losing her license to sell alcohol when he overheard drayman Arthur Burrows confess to the crime.

to be completed…


This article uses material from the "Len Fairclough" article on the Coronation Street wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.







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