Frank Barlow was a Coronation Street resident from 1938 to 1964, moving into No.3 with his wife Ida shortly before World War II. Their two children, Ken and David, were born in 1939 and 1942. A postman, Frank was devoted to providing for his family and was devastated when Ida was hit by a bus in 1961.
Frank spent the next few years trying to rebuild his life, and eventually left his job to open a DIY shop. He also dated Corner Shop owner Florrie Lindley and was engaged to young Christine Hardman until Christine broke it off. In 1964, Frank won £5,000 on Premium Bonds, sold his shop and moved to Cheshire, where he died of natural causes some time prior to April 1975.
1913-1961: Early life and marriage to Ida
Born and bred in Weatherfield in 1913, Frank Barlow married Ida Leathers on 1st May, 1938 and they had a son Ken before Frank was called out to war in 1939. Due to his military service he wasn't there to help raise Ken and David (born 1942), but when the war ended in 1945 he resumed his previous job as a postman. The family lived in 3 Coronation Street, Weatherfield, until the 1960s.
Frank was a man typical of the area at the time. Hard working, a caring father, he expected Ida to care for the family and cook meals, and he frequented the Rovers Return down the street. He was shocked when Ken, who he expected to follow in his footsteps or learn a trade, decided to go on to university and mix with students of a higher class, and their influence rubbed off on Ken. Frank tried his best to rein in Ken's radical ideas and forbade him to go on a student march - Ken went anyway.
In the sorting office Frank worked with Alf Roberts. In 1961, Frank's supervisor Norman Chadwick left the GPO and Frank got his job. He thought Ida should give up work as he could now support them on his own, but in September Ida was hit by a bus and died.
1961-1963: Florrie and Christine
Frank was devastated by Ida's death. He was almost left on his own as Ken was going to take a teaching job in Surrey but stayed in Weatherfield because of Frank. David had left to play football for the a London club after starting professionally with Weatherfield County FC. In October, Frank met Jim Foster, who drove the bus that hit Ida, who told him the accident was unavoidable.
In 1962, Frank got friendly with Florrie Lindley, owner of the Corner Shop. He liked talking to her but wasn't looking for someone to replace Ida at that point in time and was shocked when Florrie revealed she wanted more from the relationship. He didn't know how to handle the situation and avoided her for a while, later confessing that he only wanted companionship. Florrie was hurt but didn't let Frank know about it.
Later in the year Frank started seeing Christine Hardman, a neighbour young enough to be his daughter. In fact, she had gone to school with Ken. He told Ken he was serious about the relationship. Ken was ashamed at Frank, and refused to speak to him. The neighbours found the issue interesting too, and Frank and Christine found themselves victims of a lot of gossip in the street. Frank asked Christine to marry him in 1963, but she left him waiting for an answer for weeks and even met up with ex-boyfriend Joe Makinson in the intervening time. When he finished with her, she told Frank she would marry him, but she had only said yes because of the pressure she was under, and was in denial about how she really felt about Frank. She eventually told him and he was shocked but took the news well.
To take his mind off Christine, Frank gave himself another new start and resigned from the GPO to open a DIY shop. The shop was a success but Frank had trouble with the shop flat tenant Ethel Tyson, who refused to pay a rent increase and tried to put customers off the shop. Ethel brought in her brother and his son to help her out with Frank, and they started a fire in the shop. They left when Frank threatened to bring in the police.
1964-1971: Leaving Weatherfield
In 1964, Frank won £5,000 on Premium Bonds, and sold his shop for £6,000. He enjoyed throwing his weight around in the street with his new-found wealth and went on to buy a detached house in Wilmslow, Cheshire, and moved there immediately, without saying goodbye to Ken. Frank became a grandfather in 1965 when Ken's children, Peter and Susan, were born. His third grandchild, David's son Darren, was born three years later.
Frank paid two return visits to Weatherfield. His first visit was in 1967 when David summoned him to try and persuade Ken to pay a £5 fine for taking part in a student demo rather than go to prison for seven days. Ken refused to compromise and was subsequently imprisoned. His second, and last, visit was for his daughter-in-law Valerie's funeral in February 1971.
He died at home from natural causes at some point afterwards. In April 1975, Ken reminisced about his father to his son Peter, who was initially unaware of his grandfather's death.
- Frank was axed by producer Tim Aspinall along with many other popular characters (such as Martha Longhurst) in 1964. Actor Frank Pemberton suffered a stroke on 24th February 1965 which impaired his mobility. The character made two further appearances in the programme in Episode 652 (15th March 1967) and Episode 1049 (3rd February 1971) to see if the actor was able to come into the show again long-term but it was not to be. In both appearances, Mr Pemberton was seen sitting down and unable to move his left arm. He passed away on 26th March 1971, six weeks after his final appearance as Frank Barlow. The character's death has been spoken about in the series (see below).
- Reference books, such as Daran Little's 40 Years of Coronation Street, state that Frank died on 21st April 1975 however in the episode shown on that date (Episode 1487), young Peter Barlow asks father Ken Barlow if his grandfather is still alive and is told no. Frank's exact date of death is therefore unknown.
First and last lines
"What's up?" (First line, to son Ken)
"Aye, it’s a true saying is that, Mrs Sharples." (Final line)
|Ken Barlow | Frank Barlow | Ida Barlow | David Barlow | Jack Walker | Annie Walker | Elsie Tanner | Dennis Tanner | Linda Cheveski | Ivan Cheveski | Harry Hewitt | Lucille Hewitt | Concepta Riley | Ena Sharples | Minnie Caldwell | Martha Longhurst | Albert Tatlock | Christine Hardman | Florrie Lindley | Esther Hayes | Leonard Swindley|