Ida Barlow (née Leathers) was the wife of Frank Barlow and mother to Ken and David. She worked as a cleaner at the Imperial Hotel in Weatherfield but left behind a devastated family when she was hit by a bus in 1961.
Born in 1916, Ida Leathers never knew her father George as he was killed in the trenches during World War I before she was born. Raised by her mother Nancy, Ida married postman Frank Barlow on 1st May 1938 after going out with him for several years. They had two sons, Ken in 1939 and David in 1942. Frank was away for much of the war, only returning on rare occasions, such as David's conception. Towards the end of the war he stopped sending letters and Ida believed the worst, only to learn he was in a prison camp. In the war's early years, Ida was terrified, often taking to her bed, but after the death of her sister-in-law Marjorie Barlow and the passage of time, Ida became stronger. She even began a small business with Bessie Tatlock mending clothes. As the war ended, Ida realised how independent she had become, and how much she might regret a return to the old ways.
In 1960, Ida worked at the Imperial Hotel as a cleaner in the kitchens. Though usually supportive of Ken, who was at university and sometimes embarrassed about his working class roots, and proud of his education, Ida was displeased when Ken invited some college friends into 3 Coronation Street to make anti-Nuclear protest signs.A caring, "saintly" woman, Ida spent most of her time cleaning the house and cooking for the family. She rarely went to the Rovers Return though Frank was a regular.
Ida was very close to Albert Tatlock. In September 1961, Ida went to visit Albert's daughter Beattie Pearson, but stayed out so long that Ken and Frank began to worry about her. Ken went to see Beattie, who told him Ida had never shown up. Soon they learned she'd been hit by a bus and killed.
After her death Ida was not forgotten. On his wedding day in 1962, Ken spoke to his father about her, after finding him looking at photos of her. Her first granddaughter, Susan Ida Barlow, was partially named after her. On the eighth anniversary of her death, Ken laid flowers on her grave.
Ida was mentioned irregularly during the 1970s, but for the most part Ken often spoke of Uncle Albert as though he were his only parent. Ken mentioned his mother in 1974 when talking to Len Fairclough, referring to the first episode. Ken was seen looking at a picture of Ida (along with other past members of his family) in 1991 when he contemplated suicide.
- The mother of the Barlow family, Ida was one of Coronation Street's original characters and the first to leave after the programme's beginning in 1960.
- Ida's funeral episode was the most watched episode of Coronation Street up to that point, with 15.6 million viewers.
- Background information from 1939-1945 in Daran Little's book Coronation Street: The War Years.
First and last lines
"Sauce, Kenneth?" (First line)
"Oh no, don't you talk. Anyway, I am glad for myself. There's Frank as supervisor and me a lady of leisure. Ee, I don't know. Life's really worth living! Well if I don't move myself I'll be getting the sack even before I've had time to give me notice in. Frank! I'm off! Frank! Oh well, don't answer then. If he doesn't burn the house down, say goodbye to him for me." (to Nancy Leathers as Frank Barlow is outside working on sealing the back windows)