A former mill worker, Elsie rose to stardom after winning a talent show at the age of thirteen. As variety singer Melody Mae, she topped the bill at venues throughout Weatherfield performing songs including He'll Break Your Heart and Those Back Street Blues. At the peak of her popularity, Elsie received numerous offers from London agents, but she turned them all down, remaining true to her northern roots.
Elsie's singing days were ended when she injured her vocal chords at twenty-three. Two years later, she met and married widower Tommy Foyle, who had owned the Corner Shop since 1915. Elsie was happy to work behind the counter, and later took over the running of the shop when Tommy was confined to bed on account of a stroke.
In difficult times, Elsie did all she could to help her neighbours; during the Depression, she sold selected goods to regular customers at lower prices, and in the war years, when rationing laws were in place, Elsie helped them by buying black market goods to supplement their allotments. The scheme was eventually rumbled by the police and Elsie was fined.
Elsie and Tommy had two children together, Hilda and Shelagh, born in 1933 and 1935. During the war, the girls were indispensable to Elsie as they helped to run the shop and look after Tommy in bed. VE-Day on 8th May 1945, an occasion of great celebration in the Street, was a time of mourning for the Foyles as Tommy died suddenly from a heart attack. An invalid since the stroke, Tommy had urged Elsie to remarry so she wouldn't have to run the shop alone after his death. In 1947, she followed his wishes and was wed to sales rep Les Lappin, who gave up his job to run the shop with Elsie.
In 1952, Elsie became a widow again when Les had a heart attack. Hilda and Shelagh remained in residence at the shop - now working in Elliston's Raincoat Factory's canteen - until 1957 and three years later Elsie decided to retire. Buying a bungalow at Knott End, she sold the shop to Florrie Lindley. After the sale, Elsie stayed on a few days to show Florrie the ropes and give her an insider's view on her new customers. In particular, Elsie advised Florrie to allow credit to encourage her neighbours to spend more, noting that a sign she'd erected asking her customers not to ask for tick had been roundly ignored. Before her departure, Elsie interceded in an argument between Ena Sharples and Christine Hardman which took place in the shop, leading the elder woman to start on her, reminding Elsie of her wartime brush with the law.
Elsie maintained a friendship with Florrie and visited the street in October 1962 to hear the latest gossip.
- Elsie Lappin was played by actress Maudie Edwards. The character appeared in episodes Episodes 1 and 2 and spoke the very first words on Coronation Street. As a long-standing proprietor of the Corner Shop who was just leaving Coronation Street when the series began, little was revealed about Elsie's life on-screen, but her backstory was expanded upon significantly by Daran Little in his published books Weatherfield Life and Around the Coronation Street Houses. Most of the information on this page comes from those works.