Harry Hewitt was a resident of Coronation Street from 1921 to 1964. He grew up in the Street, and, with wife Lizzie and their daughter Lucille, they were the second successive generation of Hewitts to inhabit No.7.
Harry was a bus driver and later inspector, and Lizzie a clippie. In January 1959, Lizzie died in a road accident, and, unable to cope with Lucille himself, Harry put the girl in an orphanage. In 1961, he married Concepta Riley, a barmaid at the Rovers Return Inn, the local pub at which he was a regular. Lucille returned to live with the family and in 1962 Harry and Concepta had their own child, Christopher. Although Lucille preferred to stay in Weatherfield, Concepta was always pushing Harry to move to her native Ireland, and when he eventually relented in 1964, Lucille stayed behind and moved into the Rovers with Jack and Annie Walker to finish her education.
1922-1959: Early life
Harry Hewitt was the second of Thomas and Mary Hewitt's children, born on 24th February 1921. Like his older sister Alice, he was educated at Hardcastle's Factory School, which later became Bessie Street School, before going out to work at fifteen and landing a job as a clippie on the newly-established Weatherfield Bus Service.
Harry and Alice both suffered from Mary's mental problems. During the Depression, Thomas had been so desperate for work that he joined a raid on Elliston's Raincoat Factory, only to be caught by the police and imprisoned. By the time he returned home, Mary had changed into resentful and angry woman, but her problems went ignored until the night Harry returned home from a pub crawl after receiving his first wage from the buses. As he stumbled into the house blind drunk, Mary came charging down the stairs in her nightgown, a carving knife in her hand, and started slashing at her son in a psychotic episode. While the neighbours held her down, the doctor was called and Mary was carted off in a van. She spent the rest of her life in a mental asylum, passing away in 1947. Harry, who had sustained cuts to his arms in the attack, didn't attend the funeral.
Thomas Hewitt was not particularly close to either of his children, and after war broke out, was ashamed of Harry not being accepted into service (due to foot problems). In June 1940, Alice's husband Sam Burgess was killed in battle, and Thomas shamed his son into enlisting. Harry rarely visited Weatherfield during his leave from service, preferring to stay with his sister, but returned briefly for his favourite cousin Sally Todd's wedding.
Living with his father after the war, Harry returned to the buses, where he was promoted to conductor. One of the new clippies was Nellie Briggs, with whom Harry arranged a double date, with his mate Len Fairclough and her friend Lizzie Harding making up the numbers. Harry and Len quickly realised they were both after Nellie and Harry ended up going for Len when he made a play for Nellie first, only to be knocked to the floor by Len. It was only when Lizzie leaned down to nurse his bloody nose that Harry noticed that she wasn't bad either, and arranged a date!
Harry and Lizzie were married in 1948, and in 1949 their daughter Lucille was born. With Thomas's passing in 1947, the Hewitts stayed on at 7 Coronation Street, now the third generation of their family to inhabit Coronation Street.
The Hewitts led a peaceful life in the Street until the cold winter of 1959, when Lizzie was hit by an out-of-control bus which had skidded on the ice. Harry latterly comforted the driver, before being informed by Ena Sharples that it was his own wife who had been hit in the crash. Harry tried for some months to look after Lucille on his own but, despite help from his neighbours, he realised he was unable to properly support her alone and so he applied to the council to take her into care. When the day arrived for Lucille to go to the children's home, Harry was almost as distressed as Lucille, feeling the sense of loss from his daughter's departure almost as much as he had with Lizzie.
1960-1963: The returns of Lucille and Concepta
Lucille, unwilling to spend Christmas in the orphanage, walked all the way to Coronation Street in late December 1960, convincing Harry to let her stay at least until after Christmas. Harry arranged for his neighbour Esther Hayes to look after Lucille when he was away at work. For a short while the following year Harry's sister Alice moved into his home to help look after Lucille, but neither party enjoyed the arrangement and shortly afterwards Alice left to take a housekeeping job elsewhere. Harry was not short of female attention though, as local shopkeeper Florrie Lindley and one of his colleagues Eileen Hughes fought over his attentions. Harry was not romantically attracted to either lady.
The barmaid of the Rovers Return, Concepta Riley, also returned to Weatherfield from her native Ireland in 1960. A flirtation sprang up between Concepta and Harry, with Harry taking Concepta to the Bus Depot Dance. Whilst on a coach trip to Blackpool Harry proposed to Concepta, who accepted. Despite her family's initial reservations due to Harry being a Protesant, Harry and Concepta were married on 1st October 1961 in a Catholic ceremony, with Concepta's parents' blessing. The couple honeymooned on the Isle of Man.
Harry did not settle down easily into his second marriage. Arguments over furniture and Harry's tendency to spend the evenings drinking with Len Fairclough followed.
Concepta found she was pregnant and Harry found himself father to a son, Christopher. During a party to celebrate the first wedding anniversary of Harry and Concepta, Christopher went missing while in Lucille's care. His disappearance sparked a police search, and the empty pram was discovered on waste ground. After being questioned by the police, Lucille admitted to Harry that she'd left Christopher with a girl from her class, Brenda Cowan, while she was in Gamma Garments. Elsie Tanner eventually found Christopher alive and well with Joan Akers, whose own baby had died, and convinced her to return the baby to the Hewitts herself. Throughout the crisis, Harry remained a tower of strength and supported Concepta and Lucille.
In 1963, when Harry became ill with a chesty cough, Concepta began considering a move to the Irish countryside, making a living by buying her father's garage-cum-grocers. Harry was immediately won over and handed in his resignation at work, but when faced with Lucille's refusal to move, he changed his mind. Concepta threatened to move on her own, but after a row with Harry and Lucille, she backed down and resigned herself to a life in Weatherfield. After a month on the dole, Harry got a new job as a a chauffeur for Amalgamated Steel.
1964-1967: Ireland and death
The following August, Concepta's father's failing health forced him into retirement, and Concepta once again pushed Harry to move to Ireland to take over the business. History repeated itself as Harry was caught between two women, with Concepta and Lucille equally stubborn in their opposing positions. However, Harry realised that Concepta wasn't going to let the matter drop a second time, and made preparations to emigrate. Annie Walker, Concepta's former employer at the Rovers, offered to take Lucille in as the Walkers' ward so that she could finish her schooling in Weatherfield, an offer graciously accepted by the Hewitts. Although Harry was unsure about leaving Lucille behind, Lucille's acceptance of her new situation did much to allay his fears.
Harry returned to Weatherfield the following year to escort Lucille to her new family home only to find that his daughter, now a young, independent woman, had a job and no intentions of leaving Lancashire. Harry decided to respect her wishes and for the time being she remained with the Walkers.
The Hewitts returned to Weatherfield one last time in September 1967, to attend the wedding of Elsie Tanner to Steve Tanner. After the wedding, Harry and Len went to visit an old mate in Len's van. En route, the van broke down, and Harry tried to repair it himself, jacking up the van with bricks. While underneath, the bricks slipped and Harry was crushed. He died in hospital.
Harry was an old-fashioned family man; as the man of the household, he saw it as his duty and his alone to provide for his wife and children, with similarly traditional views of a woman's role in a marriage, especially when the children were very young. However, he was also a caring and attentive husband and father, who would usually bow to Concepta or Lucille's wishes to avoid rows. This did not usually help as Concepta and Lucille were always on different sides!
Despite sharing most of his time and interests with his drinking buddy Len Fairclough, Harry was more sensible than his friend, and when a fight threatened to break out, Harry would usually act at the voice of reason.
Hobbies and interests
Harry was always fond of dogs and had kept a pair of whippets when he lived alone. Concepta, who thought them smelly and dirty, ordered Harry to get rid of his beloved whippets. He swapped them for a greyhound, Lucky Lolita, who initially did very well at the Dog Track, winning several races. With the residents of Coronation Street backing her heavily, Lolita lost an important race at White City.
Harry Hewitt was Ivan Beavis's first full-time acting job. Before being cast in Coronation Street, Beavis was an audit clerk, accountant and company secretary. In the early 1950s, he joined an amateur dramatics company and, in 1957, got his first TV role in Granada sitcom The Army Game. The character of Harry was present in the second dry run and Beavis made his on-screen debut in the part in Episode 2.
An early controversy involving Harry was his marriage to barmaid Concepta Riley. The characters had been courting since the beginning of the series, and in 1961 the writers decided that they would tie the knot. It was at a story conference when writer Vince Powell pointed out that they hadn't given thought to the fact that Harry and Concepta were, respectively, Protestant and Catholic. The issue was discussed by the writing team and it was decided to carry on with the union, and explore all the attendant difficulties of such a situation. Writer H.V. Kershaw: "We were assailed by letters from Protestant and Catholic alike all complaining that we had shown a strong bias towards 'the other side'. It's difficult to win under such circumstances but at least we knew we hadn't taken the easy way out." ("The Street Where I Live", Granada Publishing, 1981) In the course of working on the programme, Beavis and Doreen Keogh had a relationship ("Coronation St.", Octopus Books, 1985)
Harry's biggest storyline was the abduction of baby Christopher in 1962, which drew the series' highest ratings up to that point. Beavis: "Harry was a something and nothing character and because of that everyone liked him and I found I had mates all over the country." ("The Coronation Street Story", Boxtree Limited, 1995) Along with Anne Reid as Valerie Barlow, Beavis appeared in the most episodes of Coronation Street in 1963, with 91 appearances.
In 1964, incoming producer Tim Aspinall decided on a number of cast changes, including writing out the entire Hewitt clan. He was talked out of axing Lucille due to her being the only child in the programme, but for Harry and Concepta, his decision was final. Harry made his last appearance in Episode 385, when he and Concepta emigrated to Ireland, leaving Lucille in Jack and Annie Walker's care.
Moving onto other acting work, Beavis soon discovered the pitfalls of his character being "rested", as casting directors continued to link him with Coronation Street. He made a brief return to the Street for two episodes in 1965, in which he expressed a desire for Harry to be killed off to stop the confusion. In 1967 he got his wish; when he and Keogh were asked to return for Elsie and Steve Tanner's wedding, scripts included Harry's accidental death. The scene called for a van to be jacked up by bricks, only to slip and crush Harry to death. With recording about to begin, the stuntman refused to lie under a van jacked up only by bricks. Beavis was to play the scene with a strong jack off camera, but it was only when recording started that he noticed the jack was missing: "I thought it's not worth stopping now, so we did it. I wasn't under there for very long. Then I came out and they put the dummy under. And this van just went bang, and split the dummy's head in two as fast as that. And all I could think was "That could have been me"." (The Coronation Street Story)
Harry and Dot Greenhalgh are cousins; their mothers were sisters.
First and last lines
"Right." (Final line, taking a spanner off a Lorry Driver).
|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|