Born in Lancashire, Sam moved to Blyth and became a ship's carpenter. He also worked as a storekeeper on the docks. In the 1920s, his only son was born, but the lad died when he was two years old. According to Ted Young, who knew Sam, his wife May was a "proper brazen bitch", and argued constantly with her husband. Jerry Booth - son of Sam's sister Nellie - told Len Fairclough a similar story, claiming that Sam was treated like a dog by his wife. In 1962, May got a separation order from Sam and he travelled alone to Weatherfield to find work, living in a hostel temporarily.
In August of that year, Sam stopped by the Rovers Return to check if there were any vacancies there. Landlady Annie Walker was struck by his honesty when he pulled her up for giving him too much change and offered him a job as a waiter and cellarman in the evenings. Mild-mannered and eager-to-please, Sam fitted well into Coronation Street, with most of the residents taking him at face value. The only exception was Ena Sharples, who was wary of the stranger in their midst and gave him a cool reception when he introduced himself to the ladies in the snug.
During his first shift, Sam was reunited with his nephew Jerry, who was now apprentice bricklayer to Len Fairclough in Mawdsley Street. Jerry was surprised to see his uncle in the area, having thought him to be in Newcastle.
Over the coming weeks, the Walkers began to suspect that Sam was hiding something. When a friend of Sam's from back home, Ted Young, arrived in the Rovers on a break from his lorry driving, he waited for Sam to start his shift so that he could say hello, but Sam sent word that he was too sick to work - a fact refuted the next day by Jerry. Meanwhile, the man himself was cagey about his background and hindered Jack Walker by delaying him over his national insurance card. Finally, Sergeant Swann called in at the Rovers looking for Sam, being put off when Jack told him that he wasn't a customer.
Without more information, the Walkers didn't inform on Sam, and allowed him to move into their spare room. When he heard Annie sharing her concerns with Jack, Sam, scared, packed his suitcases and hastily scarpered from the street, leaving the Walkers a note thanking them for everything they'd done for him. He was found hiding in the mission hall by Ena after she returned from a night out to celebrate Martha Longhurst's birthday. Despite her earlier misgivings, Ena sheltered Sam, and extracted the information that Sam had left his wife and didn't know why the police were after him. Following a pep talk, Sam went to see the police of his own free will. There he found out that he was being sought after for overdue maintenance for May and his failure to notify them of his change of address. After putting everything right, Sam went back to Newcastle and found a new job. Once he was settled in, he wrote to the Walkers explaining everything and expressing his gratitute to Ena. The letter exonerated Ena from the charge of shopping Sam to the police, which had led to her being sent to Coventry by her neighbours.
Sam kept in touch with his friends from Weatherfield and at the end of 1962 he sent postcards to Jack and Ena.