Ted Ashley was a former resident of Weatherfield who was born in Zion Street at the turn of the century and went to Bessie Street School along with Albert Tatlock, Ena Schofield, Minnie Carlton and Martha Hartley. After leaving school he worked in Garside's shoe shop in Sebastopol Street and then left for Australia after the First World War where he married, raised a family and became a rich farmer and shop owner, eventually owning 30,000 acres which he bequeathed to his sons.
He returned to his old haunts for a visit in March 1964 where Martha overheard him talking to Jack Walker in the bar of the Rovers while she was cleaning the floor in the hallway. When Annie Walker talked about the chauffeur-driven limousine outside the pub and Ted admitted it was his own hired car, Martha's mind was made up and she decided to set her cap at him. Rushing home, she changed into her best attire, putting off Ena and Minnie who wanted to go to the Luxy Cinema with her, and went back to the pub in the evening where she hoped to "bump" into Ted, in the same that he was hoping to meet his old school pal Albert, but he failed to appear.
Ena was puzzled by her friend's behaviour, particularly when she bought a tin of best salmon from the Corner Shop and invited her and Minnie to tea - even though it wasn't a Sunday. All became clear when they showed up and Ted arrived a few minutes later, having been given a message to call by his cousin Clara who was Martha's next door neighbour. The tea proved to be a comedy of manners as Ted struggled to remember the three ladies' names after so long. He also got his memories of them at school hopelessly confused. He thought that Martha had been the one who had been sent home for putting lipstick on for a school photo, whereas Minnie had been the culprit, and he recalled Martha as being timid and shy, colouring up if anyone spoke to her and crying when she was shouted out, only to have Ena admit that that had been her he was thinking of!
Albert was delighted to meet his old friend again, though he was shocked how much he had aged, not knowing that Ted felt the same way about him. Hearing that Ted was a former farmer, Albert automatically thought he would like nothing better than to see his own allotment and took him there, only to be followed by a cooing Martha. Albert and Martha were amazed to hear of the size of his farm, and Martha was equally pleased to hear that he was widower of ten years' standing. Hearing that Martha had never been as far as London, Ted suggested that she go there to stay with his sister Alice as she missed the north dreadfully and Martha took this as in invitation to go on the trip there with him.
She subsequently withdrew her savings and made preparations to travel there with him, shocking Ted who had just made the suggestion out of politeness. Ena realised the truth of the situation and asked Ted to call on her, waiting for a suitable point in the conversation where she could construe something he said as a proposal of marriage. He duly provided the opportunity and was staggered when she turned down his "offer", nevertheless she was now able to tell Minnie of the proposal, knowing full well that she would tell Martha in turn. Their friend wasn't put off though and she duly followed Ted down south, only to return a week later sheepishly admitting that Ted had shown no interest in her whatever.
List of appearances