The Maisonettes were a row of seven flats which stood on the south side of Coronation Street between 1968 and 1971. Built by Weatherfield Council to replace the Glad Tidings Mission Hall and Elliston's Raincoat Factory, the maisonettes were an example of brutalist architecture.
The block comprised four two-storey, three bedroom apartments, each with ground level access, and three OAP ground-floor flats. Construction began in February 1968 under the supervision of foreman Wilf Jones, with Fairclough and Booth installing the plumbing. The work was completed by the end of May, with the only hiccup being a threatened strike by the builders due to Len Fairclough keeping Stan Ogden employed on the site after Stan dropped a partition from the second storey and scalding the foreman's foot with boiling water. The strike was averted when Len and Jerry Booth agreed to transfer Stan to the Builder's Yard.
As they neared completion, locals were invited to put their names down for a maisonette. All three OAP flats were allocated by the council but Len managed to arrange with Mr Ironfield at the Town Hall for Ena Sharples, the former caretaker at Glad Tidings who had lost her home when the bulldozers moved in, to be housed at No.6. Across the street, Valerie Barlow was attracted by the glamour of the new apartments and persuaded a reluctant Ken to put their names down for one. The Barlows became the only family in Coronation Street to move across to the maisonettes.
Despite the initial burst of enthusiasm from local residents, in the long term the maisonettes were not well received and by 1969 a few were still empty. Neighbours blamed the dereliction of the maisonettes on the fact that they were damp and cheaply built.
In January 1971, the night before the Barlows were due to leave for a new life in Jamaica, Valerie was electrocuted in her home, dying instantly. In the process, Valerie knocked an electric fire into a packing case, starting a fire which spread through the entire block. Fire teams managed to contain the blaze, but the fire exposed structural faults in the building and the council therefore condemned the property and demolished it. A Community Centre and the Mark Brittain Warehouse were erected in their place.
- Since 1960, scenes set on the Street had been recorded inside a cramped studio, which made recording difficult. In 1967, Granada Television took the decision to build an outdoor set. At the time, many real world streets like Coronation Street were being demolished and being replaced by tower blocks, which could house many more people in the same space. The modern-looking maisonettes replaced the outdated Mission hall and factory, as a way of reflecting current trends in housing but without sacrificing the iconic Victorian terraces. The building of the outdoor set coincided with the storyline of the construction of the maisonettes early in 1968.
- The intention was to fill up all seven flats with new or established characters but a limited casting budget meant that only one character, Effie Spicer, was introduced specifically for the maisonettes (in the October 1969 squatters storyline, Mrs Storey and her three children were spoken of but never seen). Of the other inhabitants, Ena Sharples was moved on after a year. Only the Barlows' home at No.14 was seen regularly.
- With too many homes and not enough workplaces in the Street, producers awaited a chance to redress the balance and in 1971, when Anne Reid chose to leave the series, her character's death was tied into a storyline which saw the maisonettes demolished. In their place came the Community Centre and Mark Brittain Warehouse. It wasn't until 1990 - when the series was boosting the size of its cast due to a third weekly episode - that new residential houses would be built in Coronation Street, and on that occasion space was left for assorted business units which would still allow characters to interact in a workplace environment.
List of apartments
4 Coronation Street
6 Coronation Street
Ground-floor OAP flat inhabited by Ena Sharples from June 1968 for a year. No.6 was a homecoming of sorts for Ena, as it was built on the foundations of her old Mission accommodation. In 1969, deciding she'd had enough of No.6, Ena accepted Ernie Bishop's offer of a caretakership, with a flat, at his camera shop.
12 Coronation Street
Dave Robbins expressed an interest in this two-storey flat, next door to the Barlows, in 1969. His real reason was to move in a squatter family of a mother and three children after her husband had been sent to jail for three years. The occupancy divided the residents of the street along political and moral lines but after a week the family moved out before they could be evicted by Len Fairclough and the council after a farmer in the Cheshire village of Chelford offered the mother, Mrs Storey, a job and accommodation to go with it.
14 Coronation Street
Two-storey flat with ground-floor entrance, situated directly above No.6. The Barlow family - Ken, Valerie, and twins Peter and Susan - lived there from June 1968 until January 1971. The family previously lived at 9 Coronation Street, directly opposite the maisonettes.
In July 1968, escaped rapist Frank Riley trapped Valerie inside No.14. Valerie managed to summon help by banging on the water pipes, which was overheard by Ena Sharples downstairs. Ena raised the alarm after hearing the phone go unanswered at the Barlows', enabling the police to move in and arrest Riley.
No.14, and presumably the other three two-storey apartments, had an open plan living/dining room, with a sliding door separating the living room and kitchen. Two windows were situated on the wall between the hall and living room, giving the Barlows a glimpse of their visitors before they walked through the door.
- Presumably, the other maisonettes were numbered 2, 8, and 10.