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Len Fairclough wanted to enjoy life. To do so, he needed a good job, good drink and good women. Money-wise, he was content as long as he could afford to keep his lifestyle going, content to live in Coronation Street even though he personally thought it was a dump. As he owned his own business, choosing his own hours, he was used to being in charge and didn't like it when control was taken away from him. The desire for control pervaded his relationships with women, as he once told Rita that marriage wasn't a partnership - the man is in charge. When challenged, Len was quick to anger and handy with his fists, getting into fights even with his friends if he felt it necessary.
Len Fairclough wanted to enjoy life. To do so, he needed a good job, good drink and good women. Money-wise, he was content as long as he could afford to keep his lifestyle going, content to live in Coronation Street even though he personally thought it was a dump. Len had an explosive temper in his early years on the show, and was handy with his fists, getting into fights even wth certain friends of his on occasion.
Although charming, Len was rather sexist in his views of women, judging them initially by their looks and valuing them for their ability to look after him. He clung to dated views of the roles of men and women in life and in relationships, with only a few women challenging his views, primarily Elsie and Rita, and as such they earned his respect more than any of the other women in his life.
Len enjoyed several romances over the years. His attitude to women was interesting as he was on the surface very much a brash, working class male of the times, but he also regarded women as friends. Long after his on-off romance with Elsie had ended, Len was providing a listening ear for her in times of trouble. In [[1979]], he attempted to help[[ Deirdre Langton]], whose marriage had broken up, by offering her a job at the Yard, although it did not make sound financial sense. Rita found out and quashed the idea.

Revision as of 12:14, November 13, 2010

Leonard "Len" Fairclough was the owner of a building firm in Mawdsley Street from 1962 to 1983 and a Coronation Street resident from 1968 to 1983. After setting up his own firm, hard working and hard drinking Len entered into a partnership with Jerry Booth, and for a time spent most of his evening propping up the bar of the Rovers Return Inn with his friend Harry Hewitt.

Despite being married to Nellie and father of Stanley, Len neglected his home life in favour of enjoying himself, spending a lot of time in the company of Elsie Tanner, whom he had carried a torch for since childhood. After divorcing Nellie, Len proposed to Elsie, but she turned him down twice. Len and Elsie had a strong bond and turned to each other in their time of need for many years.

In 1972, Len started a relationship with nightclub singer Rita Littlewood. As a favour to Rita, Len bought newsagent The Kabin and installed Rita as manager. For several years, Rita and Len had an on/off relationship but eventually married, in 1977. Despite frequent rows, the couple were mostly happy. They lived at 9 Coronation Street until 1982 when they moved into No.7, which Len had built himself. Len was killed in a motorway accident in 1983 while on his way to meet his mistress Marjorie Proctor, who Rita didn't know existed until after Len's death.

Although fond of drink, Len put much effort into making his business a success, taking on various partners and apprentices including Jerry, Ray Langton, Martin Cheveski and Eddie Yeats. As well as a builder, Len had a seat on the Council from 1966 to 1978, representing the Ratepayers' Association. He lost his seat after being arrested for being drunk and disorderly. Quick to anger, Len was prone to using his fists to settle his troubles and had a fiery temper. As well as Elsie and Rita, Len had a keen eye for the ladies, romancing many women during his time in the Street.


Early life

Len fairclough 1961

Len as he appeared in 1961

Leonard Fairclough was born in Liverpool on 5th November 1924. An only child, Len moved with his parents to Weatherfield when he was a boy, growing up at the height of the Depression. He left school at fourteen to become an apprentice bricklayer, but eventually escaped to sea, serving in the Navy during the second World War. During his time on active service Len served with the Russian Convoys, protecting the cargo ships carrying supplies across Arctic seas. His fellow servicemen included Bill Gregory and Alan Howard.

Upon returning to civilian life in 1946 Len settled in Weatherfield. He found work with Birtwistle's Construction as a carpenter and for a time enjoyed the life of a bachelor, spending his evenings propping up the bar at the Rovers Return Inn with friend Harry Hewitt or entertaining young women.

On one evening, Len and Harry went on double dates with Nellie Briggs and Lizzie Harding. Both of them were interested in Nellie and ended up fighting over her, getting thrown out of the Rovers in the process. Len went on to marry Nellie on 12th July 1949 and their son Stanley was born on 8th June 1950. By his own admission, Len was a terrible husband and father, as he had enjoyed the life of a single man too much and Nellie was a nag. He often didn't invite her to functions where other men brought their wives, and when at time he treated her like a servant, and expected her to cook and clean while he spent the evening drinking.

A time of change

Len's settled existance was to change in 1962 when Nellie decided it was time to end her marriage. Nellie had found out that Len had been doing private jobs, and skipping work to build a fireplace for Elsie Tanner at 11 Coronation Street. Nellie left Len, taking Stanley with her. Rather than fight for his marriage, Len spent more time with Elsie. They came to an arrangement whereby Elsie would help Len around the home, cooking and cleaning for him. Shocked by this behaviour Martha Longhurst, a neighbour, reported Len to his bosses and he was dismissed shortly afterwards. Upset by the gossip, Elsie stopped helping Len at home and shortly afterwards Nellie returned to Len. It was a short reconciliation though, lasting less than a year. When Len was charged with assault for hitting Dave Smith, Nellie was humiliated that Len had been fighting over another women and abandoned him for good, leaving for a new life in Nottingham with Stanley and Harry Bailey, an insurance agent.

Episode 279

Len asks Elsie to marry him, but Elsie had doubts

After setting himself up as a builder, leasing a yard near his home to work out of, Len took on an apprentice: local boy Jerry Booth. When divorce proceedings began, he started to court Elsie Tanner properly and swiftly proposed. She turned him down on 22nd November 1963, telling him she valued their friendship and was worried they would grow to despise each other.

Fairclough's first big break came when he was contracted to make alterations on the new Viaduct Street Social Club. Len took on another apprentice, Eddie Thomas, and briefly dated a friend of his, Joyce Lennox, a machinist at Elliston's Raincoat Factory. He was dismayed when he found out Joyce was more interested in Eddie. When Minnie Caldwell injured herself on a staircase Len had built, Len found himself paying £50 compensation, and with no work coming in he had to sack Jerry and Eddie, despite Jerry falling into debt.

In 1964 Nellie passed away, and Len again proposed to Elsie, suggesting they provide a home for Stanley. At Elsie's suggestion, they had a trial marriage, but she refused to get intimate or cook his meals for him. Len came to see that she was right; they wouldn't work as a couple. Len decided that Stanley would stay in Nottingham with Harry Bailey.

Fairclough and Booth

In 1965, Len took on Norma Gee as housekeeper, but dropped her when he realised she had designs on him. He was surprised when Jerry returned, and immediately gave him his job back. Friction was soon caused between them when Len turned down a job converting flats in Blackburn, and William Piggott talked Jerry into taking the contract himself by offering to give him money to pay back money he owed Len. Len had known that Piggott wanted it done cheaply and Jerry returned when the job folded. Len was angry at Jerry for a while but soon calmed down and offered him, as a birthday present, a partnership in his firm, and let him lodge at his house.

Len thought he had hit the jackpot in 1966 when brewery Newton & Ridley gave him a contract. Len took on Ray Langton as plumber. While on the job, Len spent most of his time drinking and playing cards, annoying Jerry who was worried that he would bring the firm down. Len lost the contract when Jerry fell off sub-standard scaffolding built by Len. Len made reperations to Jerry and sacked Ray when he threatened Lucille Hewitt.

Councillor Fairclough

Len ken

Len recruits Ken to write his election address

Len entered local politics in 1966, elected on a policy backing slum clearances. He defeated local publican Annie Walker at the hustings, winning the residents over by promising to fence off the canal. After winning the election, however, he opposed the move. When Paul Cheveski, Elsie's five-year-old grandson, wandered off and fell in the canal, Len provided Elsie with emotional support. However, when Elsie found out what Led had done, she held him responsible for Paul's near-death. Ivan Cheveski, the boy's father, attempted to physically assault Len as a result of this, but held back when he learnt his son was well.

In mid-1967 Len invested £300 of Fairclough & Booth's money in an ill-fated property deal. To prevent anything like that happening again, Jerry insisted on restructuring the company, forming a limited company with the pair as equal partners, with Emily Nugent doing the company's books.

Stanley returned to Weatherfield later that year and started working for Len. Stanley was disrespectful towards Len but Len allowed it as he felt guilty that he had never been a good father. An accident led to Stanley being trapped in the Yard whilst it was on fire and Len almost lost his life attempting to rescue him. Stanley realised he was not happy and returned to Nottingham.

Len became an unpopular figure in Coronation Street when he gave them news that the area was being developed, and half the Street knocked down. Len got a plumbing contract for the new Maisonettes, but refused to re-employ Ray Langton, favouring Stan Ogden even though Stan had nearly killed his workmates by dropping a partition. Len reluctantly gave Ray a job and sent Stan to do other jobs. When neighbour Ken Barlow and his family moved into one of the Maisonettes, Len bought Ken's old house, 9 Coronation Street, and knocked down his old house so he could expand the Yard. When Jerry's divorce came through, however, Jerry left the area for pastures new, ending the partnership. Ray continued to work for Len and moved into No.9 as a lodger when Len thumped him for his attitude towards his previous landlady, Elsie Tanner.

The end of Len and Elsie

In 1967, Elsie married American GI Steve Tanner, but they separated the following year. Steve tried to reconcile in 1968 but Elsie decided to turn him down. Although Len didn't disguise his dislike of Steve or the way he treated Elsie, when Steve was murdered on 25th September he claimed not to be involved. Len admitted to going to see Steve, and emerged as the prime suspect, but the police were unable to charge him. Elsie's lingering suspicions that Len had murdered her husband caused a rift between the pair. Len was annoyed at Elsie's attitude towards him and ran off with the petty cash from the Yard, losing the firm a contract due to his unavailability.

Upon his return, his landlady Marj Griffin followed him to Weatherfield, having left her husband Basil for Len.

Len confronts Elsie when Janet leaves him

Len made every attempt to get her to leave and was surprised when Basil showed up and told her not to return. Len tried to scare Marj off by proposing, and was horrified when she accepted. Ray helped Len out by pretending two local boys were Len's children, and Marj left him, refusing to be a mother.

In 1969, the Yard fell into debt, and a concerned Elsie gave Jack Walker £300 to give to Len in his name, as she knew Len would refuse the money if he thought it was from Elsie. Elsie was surprised when Len announced his intention to use the money to make a new start with Town Hall clerk Janet Reid, although Janet felt Len was too keen and smothered her with his attentions. Len had become besotted but when Janet ended the affair Len blamed Elsie and slapper her, only to be reprimanded by Jack. Jack revealed that it was actually Elsie who had provided the £300. Len sold his van and tracked down Elsie to repay her. She told him their friendship was finally at an end.

Len overworked to pay Elsie back, even missing Council meetings in the process. The situation was made worse when Ray set up his own business and stole Len's customers, but in 1970 Ray returned with his tail between his legs and agreed to enter into a partnership with Len.

Bringing in the new

Len began the new decade torn between two potential lovers, shopkeeper Maggie Clegg and barmaid Anita Reynolds. Through he proposed to Anita, he had a change of heart when he discovered that she was young enough to be his daughter. A reconciliation of sorts followed with Elsie, with Len acting as a witness to her third marriage, to his old friend Alan Howard.

Later that year, Len thwarted an attempt by Willie Piggott to steal Len's contract for a student hostel by selling cheap material to Roscoe & Pitts so he could make a profit while Roscoe could get the contract by offering a lower rate. Piggott had used Emily Nugent to spy on Len to get details of his tender for the contract.

Len briefly employed Gina Fletcher as housekeeper, despite her lack of skills. He sacked her when he found out she had invited her boyfriend around during the day. In 1971, Jerry returned and Len took him on at the Yard, and Jerry moved back into No.9. Jerry effectively became Len and Ray's housekeeper and insisted on being paid for his work.

Len rita 1972

Len tells Rita he wants her

In 1972, Len went out with Rita Bates, and helped her find accommodation as her home was about to be demolished and Len was on the housing committee. Although Rita used the name of Bates, she wasn't actually married to Harry Bates. When Harry found out about Rita and Len, he beat her up and threw her out. Len warned Harry to stay away from Rita but Rita returned to Harry anyway. A short time later, Len saw Rita singing in a nightclub and fell for her, although he had competition from Benny Lewis, who was employing Len to convert a penthouse for him. Benny proposed to Rita and she accepted, but when Len told Rita he wanted a relationship, she left Benny for him. Despite being rejected, Benny still gave Rita a job as hostess and resident singer at his new club, The Capricorn, but on opening night Rita showed Len up by getting into a fight with a woman. The incident was witnessed by several top officials, including the current Mayor of Weatherfield Harold Chapman. Len was being considered to succeed Chapman as Mayor and his chances were hurt by his association with Rita. Angry, Len called Rita common and she threw a drink over him. Len told the Mayor that he and Rita had split up but Alf Roberts was still chosen as the new Mayor over Len. As Alf was a friend, Len graciously agreed to be Deputy Mayor.

The long road to marriage

Len and Rita reconciled in 1973 when he made her resign from the Capricon, which had been bought over by someone who was using the club as a cover to make pornographic films. Len decided to make a big gesture and installed Rita as manager of a Rosamund Street newsagent he had bought, with a lending library and cafe at the back, even allowing her an assistant. The move angered Ray who had designs on the unit himself. The relationship went sour however when Len went on a trip to France and didn't invite Rita.

VAT was introduced that same year. The firm was asked to pay VAT on a job done for a firm that had gone bust before paying them, and Len steadfastly refused to pay. To protect the newsagent, now called The Kabin, he transferred it into Rita's name, and went to court over the VAT issue. When Jerry paid the money, Len and Ray were angry and disappeared for a while. The business thrived with Jerry running it alone, and upon their return Len and Ray made Jerry a partner.

In 1974, Len kept a redevelopment plan that would see Coronation Street demolished quiet from the residents. He wanted to sell his house and the Kabin and get a good deal on them before the development was common knowledge, but Rita refused to sell as the Kabin was now in her name. When he continued to put pressure on her, Rita told the residents about the redevelopment. The news sent shockwaves through the Street and the usually timid Emily Bishop threw a brick through Len's window in protest. Fortunately, the plan was voted out by the Councillors, including Len. Len seized the opportunity to propose to Rita, and she accepted, but she quickly broke it off when he wouldn't commit to a date.


Bet breaks it off with Len when he tells her he only wants sex

Over the next few years, Len and Rita started seeing other people. Len had a brief fling with Bet Lynch, neglecting the business to spend time with her. Bet broke it off with she realised he was only interested in casual sex, and she was looking for a more meaningful relationship. In 1975, Len was suspected of murdering Lynn Johnson, an abused housewife who had turned to Len for help. Len spent two nights in the cells until Lynne's husband Roy confessed to the murder. Len was surprised when Bet, not Rita, went to see him in prison and fought for his release.

Ray moved out of No.9 when he married Deirdre Hunt, who was the Yard's secretary. Later that year, Jerry died from a heart attack.

In 1976, Rita was beginning to warm to Len again, but Elsie Howard's return to the Street put Rita out. As Len was still Rita's boss, he was able to prevent her from taking time off to sing in Torquay. At the opening night of the Gatsby club, where Rita was singing, Rita knocked Len out in anger over the way he was treating her. When he came out of hospital, he pretended to be sicker than he was as he enjoyed Rita taking care of him. When she found out he was putting it on, Rita threw his washing out the window.

The following year, Stanley visited with his fiancee, Liz Brocklebank, and told Len he wasn't invited to the wedding. Liz wanted to make peace between father and son and sent Len an invite anyway, but he refused to go as he wasn't wanted.


Len and Rita finally tie the knot

Keen to make a new start, Rita took a four-month singing contract in Tenerife, quitting her job at the Kabin. She turned down Len's proposal, seeing it as a desperate means to keep her in Weatherfield, but she had a change of heart when Len appeared at the airport and begged her to stay. He had an eventful stag night, first refusing to sleep with Marie Stanton and then twisting his ankle after falling while drunk. On 20th April, Rita and Len finally tied the knot at St. Mary's church, with Alf Roberts as best man. The couple went to Tenerife on their honeymoon and Rita moved into No.9.

Len loses his seat

Len and Rita's marriage quickly settled into a routine, with Len believing himself to be in charge and taking Rita for granted. He persuaded Rita to retire from showbusiness, even though it would earn them extra money.

Later in the year, Ray and Len decided new terms on their partnership, which stood at 60/40 in Len's favour. To avoid Rita's complaints, Len and Ray agreed to keep the new arrangement from their wives.

Len and Rita's marriage hit a low point when Len got drunk on Alf's stag night and made advances towards the arresting policewoman. When an appalled Rita denied knowing him, Len spent the night in a cell, only just making it to Alf's wedding in time the next day to serve as best man. When the scandal hit the newspapers, the Council asked for Len's resignation, but as he was pleading not guilty he decided to fight the gossip. Len was fined and lost his seat on the Council.

Unfortunately, more trouble for the Faircloughs was to follow. When Len and Ray took out a contract to convert an old house into a hotel, Len stored £3,000 worth of material in Doug Clayton's warehouse, which later burned down in a fire. As the warehouse's contents weren't insured, the firm lost a fortune, and Len took out a loan from the bank, with Rita returning to singing to help pay it back, even though it meant performing at second-rate men's clubs. The hotel development went bust, leaving Fairclough & Langton £6,000 in debt. Len agreed to a repayment scheme and worked around the clock. It was a huge relief when the hotel job was back on.

Later in 1978, Ray split up from Deirdre and emigrated to Holland, leaving Len on his own at the Yard. He reluctantly took on Eddie Yeats as labourer.

Rita makes a stand


Len finds Rita in Blackpool and tries to persuade her to reconcile

By 1979, Rita was growing increasingly unhappy with the marriage. Len's Christmas present that year was a mere box of chocolates. In 1980, Rita gave Len a list of alterations she wanted done to No.9 to make it liveable. As Len scoffed at her demands, Rita walked out and went to stay with Gatsby manager Ralph Lancaster. When Len went to see Rita, she accused him of treating her like a housekeeper, not a woman. She decided to go further away so that Len couldn't track her down. After two months of loneliness, Len was alerted by Sam Littlewood to Rita's whereabouts, and he went to Blackpool to see her and persuade her to return, promising things would change. After some consideration, Rita returned to Weatherfield, and Len set to work on the house.

Rita was keen to prove to Len that she was a good businesswoman and decided to secure the business a contract, with Len working at the Kabin in the meantime. He was impressed when Rita got a contract with Bob Atkinson, but when he made it clear there were strings attached, Len stepped in to see him off.

As Rita had never had children of her own, she eventually became interested in adopting. The couple pursued it in 1981 but were told they were too old to adopt. They were however accepted as foster parents, fostering first 13-year-old John Spencer. Len was surprised that John didn't like football, but made an effort by taking him fishing. In 1982, they fostered Sharon Gaskell, who liked them so much she decided to stay with them longer. After falling for married Brian Tilsley, however, Sharon left Weatherfield to take a job in Sheffield. Len had grown to care about Sharon and blamed Brian for her departure.


In 1981, Len became interested in building a house where No.7 had stood until its collapse in 1965. He did such a good job with it that Rita wanted to sell No.9 and move into the house next door. Len reluctantly bowed to pressure from Rita and sold No.9 to Chalkie Whitely, although the neighbours didn't get on as Len had left No.9 in a state and in revenge Chalkie didn't pass on Len's mail.

While on a job in Bolton, Len fitted a job for widow Marjorie Proctor, and comforted her over her dead husband. They soon became lovers. On 19th December 1983, while driving to Bolton to see Marjorie, Len fell asleep at the wheel of his van and crashed his car. He was killed instantly. In the wake of his death, Rita found out about Len's affair and met Marjorie. She tried not to let it tarnish her memories of Len.


Len Fairclough wanted to enjoy life. To do so, he needed a good job, good drink and good women. Money-wise, he was content as long as he could afford to keep his lifestyle going, content to live in Coronation Street even though he personally thought it was a dump. Len had an explosive temper in his early years on the show, and was handy with his fists, getting into fights even wth certain friends of his on occasion.

Len enjoyed several romances over the years. His attitude to women was interesting as he was on the surface very much a brash, working class male of the times, but he also regarded women as friends. Long after his on-off romance with Elsie had ended, Len was providing a listening ear for her in times of trouble. In 1979, he attempted to help Deirdre Langton, whose marriage had broken up, by offering her a job at the Yard, although it did not make sound financial sense. Rita found out and quashed the idea.


Nellie and Stanley

Len fancied Nellie upon meeting her in 1949, and Len was envied by his best friend Harry Hewitt when he began a relationship with Nellie. As time went on, and their son Stanley was born, Len enjoyed Nellie's company less and less and spent more time away from home, often lingering in the Rovers Return Inn until closing time. Nellie was effectively Len's housekeeper, a role Len expected many later women in his life to occupy. When Nellie left Len, he didn't care whether she returned or not, as her presence and departure did not have a large impact on his life.

Len also had difficulty forming a connection with son Stanley. He took an interest in Stanley's schooling, keen for him to get an education and at one time threatening teacher Ken Barlow for making Stanley go out in the snow with a bad chest. Stanley eventually became resentful of Len for the way he had treated Nellie and himself and, whenever he visited Weatherfield, did not treat Len with respect, feeling he did not deserve it. Len agreed with Stanley, and swore off becoming a father again as he had done such a terrible job the first time.

Harry Hewitt

Harryhewitt death

Len tries to save his friend

Len and Harry were friends for many years. They had similar personalities, although Harry was a more devoted husband to Lizzie and father to Lucille. Len got on well with Lizzie, and once had an affair with her which Harry never found out about. In 1961, several years after Lizzie's death in a road accident, Harry married barmaid Concepta Riley. The following year, Nellie recruited Concepta to help her make Len see sense over his doing work for Elsie Tanner. The incident led to one of the few times Len and Harry were at loggerheads as Len abused Concepta when she appealed to him for Nellie's sake, and Harry hit Len to the floor. They rekindled their friendship a short time later, with Len accompanying the Hewitts on an Easter Monday picnic.

In 1963, Harry reported one of his fellow bus drivers, Johnny Alexander, who said that Len hadn't paid his fare even though Led said he did. Harry stood by his friend until Len admitted that he hadn't paid the fare. Harry felt guilty as it was his report that had got Johnny, who was black, sacked. Although Harry convinced the bus company to offer Johnny his job back, Johnny declined.

Harry and Concepta emigrated to Ireland in 1964, leaving Lucille to live at the Rovers with the Walkers. Len looked out for Lucille out of loyalty to Harry, and Lucille called him "Uncle Len". In 1967, when Harry and Concepta visited to attend Elsie and Steve Tanner's wedding, Harry was killed when he and Len were repairing a van and the jack slipped, crushing Harry. Len was distraught at the loss of his mate and broke the news to Concepta.

Elsie Tanner

"Every time you came a cropper, you turned to me. And every time you opened it all up. You turned me down alright. But would you let me go! Would you hell as like."

Elsie Tanner was a year old than Len. They had known each other at school, where Len would tease Elsie. As adults, they were friends, but as Len was attracted to Elsie, he was always interested in taking their relationship further, a move resisted by Elsie, as Len was dependable, and she could talk to him and laugh with him, something she felt they would ruin if their relationship became sexual and the problems between them would have to be addressed. Elsie was indirectly the cause of Len's divorce from Nellie but Len celebrated the end of his marriage instead of mourning it.


Len argues with Elsie during the Robert Maxwell incident

Despite agreeing to stay friends with Elsie, Len was jealous of Elsie's other men, including Bill Gregory, Elsie's lover from the Navy who was an old friend of Len's, and bookie Dave Smith, who like Len had been rejected by Elsie until 1967 when Elsie succumbed to his charms when he revealed that it was he who had rescued her grandson Paul Cheveski from drowning in the canal. When Len signed a petition against Dave getting his betting licence renewed, Elsie accused him of being jealous. Len was afraid that it would be viewed as a conflict of interest in court as he had signed it as Councillor Fairclough, but decided to back his voters. In any case, the move was defeated.

In 1965, Elsie turned to Len when she had been out with Bob Maxwell, who had a heart attack at the wheel of his car while driving Elsie home. Elsie had fled the scene and not told the police. Len argued with Elsie, horrified that she had involved him, and disgusted with her when he found out that she had been with Bob longer than she had indicated. Even with that, Len duly went to retrieve Elsie's gloves, which she had left in the car.

When Elsie was dating Steve Tanner in 1967, Len suppressed his jealousy again. When Steve was assaulted, Len was a prime suspect, but was cleared when the culprit was discovered to be Walt Greenhalgh. Elsie married Steve and emigrated to the USA, but returned early the next year and shut herself inside No.11, refusing to talk to the neighbours. Let eventually forced his way inside her house to confront Elsie and, finding the house a pigsty and Elsie looking a mess, made Elsie open up about her marriage and Steve.

In the 1970s, Elsie and Len pursued other relationships, with both marrying other people and Elsie spending three years in Newcastle. They remained close, but Len refused to be used by Elsie anymore, and the prospect of them getting together fell by the wayside completely over time.

Jerry Booth

Len jerry

Len dispenses wisdom to Jerry

Jerry Booth was Len's apprentice at the Yard from 1962 to 1963, and later labourer and eventually partner. Jerry was not at all like Len; while Len was confident, Jerry was shy. Len took it upon himself to train Jerry in the ways of the trade as well the ways of the world. He was concerned over Jerry's marriage to domineering Myra Dickinson and jokingly remarked to Jerry that Myra wore the trousers in their relationship. As the Booths fell into debt, Len tried to help them out but eventually had to sack Jerry as there wasn't enough work at the Yard. As Jerry was reliable and hardworking, Len employed him whenever possible, sacking Stan Ogden in 1971 so that he could give Jerry his job (although he had planned to sack Stan anyway).

Although quiet most of the time, Jerry did not respond well to mockery, assaulting Jim Stoker when Jim accused him of sucking up to Len. Len testified in court on Jerry's behalf. Although keen to prove he wasn't under Len's thumb, Jerry looked up to Len, once throwing a walking race against Len so that they would draw.

Rita Fairclough

Len met Rita Littlewood when he thought she was married to Harry Bates. When he found that she Harry's common-law wife, and that Rita had left him, Len started pursuing Rita. As with Elsie, Len was jealous when he saw Rita with other men but he made his intentions towards Rita clear from the outset. From 1973, even when they weren't in a relationship, they were linked by Len's ownership of The Kabin, even though it was in Rita's name. When Rita turned down his proposal in 1974, Len demoted Rita and promoted her assistant Mavis Riley to manageress, but gave Rita her job back when he came to his senses.


Len struggles to control his anger as Rita stands up to him

As their on/off relationship continued, Rita became more aware of Len's history with Elsie, and was suspicious of the fact that Len apparently still dropped everything to help Elsie when she needed him. When Fred Gee, who had a crush on Rita, accused Len of neglecting his wife, Len hit him. Len assured Rita that she came first.

Rita was occasionally frustrated with her home life, and Len's attitude towards her. In 1979, Len tried to cancel a caravan holiday in Morecambe due to work, but Rita went anyway, taking Bet Lynch along. Len decided to surprise Rita, and found them entertaining Alec Keegan and Tony Ball. To Rita's anger, he wasn't jealous, and joined the lads on their fishing trip. The incident was symptomatic of Len's usual behaviour: he would only fix problems he could see, but Rita saw many more problems with their marriage than he did, with Len taking Rita for granted and refusing to play an active part in the housekeeping, even after she left him for two months.

After Len's death, Rita's world fell apart, as she not only had to cope with his death but the fact that he had cheated. Even in death, Len played a part in Rita's life; a later boyfriend, Alan Bradley, reminded Rita of Len, and in 1988 Alan used Len's name to mortgage No.7, without Rita's knowledge, so that he could get a loan.

Role in the community


As a builder and councillor, Len was an integral part of the community. His building firm operated out of 15 Mawdsley Street and he was the first port of call if anyone needed work done on their houses. In Coronation Street, he was responsible for both demolishing No.7 after the front collapsed due to a faulty beam, and the rebuilding of the house in 1982. He employed many of the Street residents as labourers over the years, including Bert Tilsley, Dennis Tanner, Terry Bradshaw and Eddie Yeats, even though some of them had dubious pasts.

Len's profession sometimes involved more of the community. In 1966, he ran a handyman class at the Mission when it operated as a community centre. He used the opportunity to charm social worker Ruth Winter. He agreed to be a bouncer at the Mission dance, but left his post to entertain Ruth. He was upset when she left the area to get married.

Even before becoming a Councillor, Len arranged several community events, including a kobbly knees contest. When elected to the council, Len represented his neighbours, fighting to secure Ena Sharples the job of caretaker at the Community Centre and speaking to the committee at Granston Technical College to convince them not to sack Ken Barlow when he was sent to prison for seven days. He was also spokesperson for an anti-firework campaign for the Weatherfield Gazette. On other occasions he was willing to stand against his neighbours, such as when he removed the Lawson family who were squatting at No.3, and when he went on an all-expenses paid trip to Torquay as a protest to WARP's accusation against the Councillors of wasting taxpayers money.

Len was also a regular partipicant in the Street's amateur productions in the Glad Tidings Mission Hall and Community Centre, playing Brockers Man in Cinderella (during which he got a custard pie in the face), Abanazer in Aladdin (when he left beer around the stage to keep him going), Lane in The Importance of Being Earnest, and Dandini in another production of Cinderella in 1975.

Hobbies and interests

Aside from drinking, Len was interested in sports, mainly football. In 1966, he went to a World Cup game and also followed Weatherfield FC and occasionally played the game himself. He was also interested in gambling and dog racing, and followed the career of Harry Hewitt's greyhound Lucky Lolita, convincing everyone to put their money on the dog until it hit a losing streak, coming in last.

At a 1966 fancy dress party in the Mission, Len dressed up as Batman. He later played billiards when competing on behalf of the Rovers against the Flying Horse, but lost.

Other information

Len fairclough 1969

Len with a moustache

  • Len grew a moustache in 1969, but after a few months decided to shave it off.
  • Len was injured in 1979 when a lorry crashed into the Rovers while he was drinking there. He suffered a head cut and wrenched shoulder.
  • In 1962, Len had a dispute with Ken Barlow when Ken wrote an article criticising the working class, and a newspaper reported on it, as it had been published in a magazine. Len and the neighbours took it personally and when Ken didn't show his face in the Rovers, Len thought he was a wimp. Ken eventually faced his accusers, primarily Len, and a brawl ensued. Despite this, the pair eventually became friends and Len was best man at Ken and Deirdre Langton's wedding in 1981.
  • Len was Leonard Swindley's best man at Swindley's wedding to Emily Nugent in 1964, although they didn't actually get married.
  • In 1963, Len was suspected of wrecking the Mission vestry, home of Ena Sharples, as his key was used by the perpetrator to enter the building, and his whereabouts weren't known at the time in question. Len couldn't remember what had happened as he was drunk at the time, but fortunately Michael Butterworth was exposed as the culprit.

Background information

  • Len Fairclough first appeared in Episode 14 (25th January 1961). One of the first characters to be introduced after the original characters had been established, Len was quickly integrated into the regular line-up and was the only non-original cast member to be contracted for the duration of the Equity actors' strike.
  • For many years, Len was the programme's primary male character, appearing in more episodes than any other character in 1962, 1965, 1966 and 1972.
  • Len was killed off in 1983 when actor Peter Adamson was sacked for breach of contract. His last appearance was in Episode 2307 (11th May 1983), seven months before the character was killed off.
  • Len also appeared in The Magic of Coronation Street, a video spin-off in which Len, along with Elsie and Annie, reminisce over old times, recalling the events of six episodes from the 1960s, which are included on the video. The 1982 release was the first time episodes of Coronation Street had been made commercially available.
  • Len's first wife, Nellie Fairclough, never appeared in the programme.

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