Ada was the eldest child and was born in 1910, two years after Sid and Alice moved into 5 Coronation Street. She was educated at Hardcastle's factory school. At eight years old, Ada started part-time at Hardcastle's Mill but her parents made her drop work to concentrate on her schooling. Ada became interested in teaching and at seventeen she returned to Hardcastle's factory school as a qualified teacher. Among her pupils was her little sister, Esther.
In 1931, Hardcastle's was merged with Bessie Street School and Ada transferred to there. During the Second World War, Ada spent four years teaching evacuated children in Blackpool while living at the Rose and Crown public house. It was there that she had her first romance, with a French airman named Alexandre Dupont.
Sidney's death in 1940 took the fight out of Alice and she retired to bed, relying on Ada and Esther to look after her. She finally got out of bed when Tom got out of prison (much to her daughters' furies) but it didn't last as when Tom re-offended and went back to prison, Alice's "weak legs" gave in and she returned to bed. In 1949, Ada met Matt Harvey, a country boy whose ambition was to farm sheep in Australia. He and Ada got married and moved to Australia together, leaving Esther alone to shoulder the burden of coping with Alice. When Alice died in 1952, Esther let out a sigh of relief.