Mike Baldwin bought the premises in 1997, named it Underworld, and went into partnership with Angie Freeman to manufacture lingerie. The new factory caught fire in 2004 when Janice Battersby caused a fire by dropping a lit cigarette onto a pile of clothes in the stockroom. Nick Tilsley saved Janice, but they both lost their jobs. After Mike died in April 2006, his son, Danny ran the factory until September when Adam Barlow sold up to Paul and Liam Connor. Carla inherited Paul's half of the factory when he was killed in June of the following year. Liam took on Paul's widow Carla and newcomer Tony Gordon. When Liam was murdered by Tony (for having an affair with Tony's fiancée Carla), Tony took over. Underworld was destroyed by a fire started by Tony on 9th June 2010 but eventually re-opened. Carla accepted a business contract from Frank Foster who signed a contract to give him 40% ownership. However, Frank was murdered just a few hours after signing the deal but because the paperwork was still in his possession, the contract was not legally binding. Carla then became co-proprietor alongside Peter Barlow, after briefly being in partnership with her brother, Rob Donovan.
With Peter signing his 50% share of the business back over to his wife in July 2014, Carla was once again the sole owner until a gambling addiction got her into financial difficulty. Originally intent on selling up, Nick Tilsley was able to contact and summon Aidan Connor, who in August 2015 offered to invest £100,000 in return for a 40% share. Aidan's dad Johnny arrived and claimed that the £100,000 in fact belonged to him. He agreed to invest on the condition that he became a company director - Johnny settled with 22% of the shares while Aidan kept 18%. In May 2016, Carla departed Weatherfield but remained a silent partner in the business.
In January 2017, Johnny revealed that he was planning to retire and planned to hand the factory over to Aidan. However, he later discovered that Adam and Peter Barlow were planning to sue the Connors for conning Adam out of his share of the factory when he was eighteen years old. The factory lost all it's business and everything inside it, including the roof, after Eva Price and Adam Barlow got revenge for Aidan's affair with Maria Connor. Aidan and Alya Nazir subsequently tried to reopen the factory, however Johnny planned to sell his 22% share to someone else so Aidan enlisted Carla's assistance and she bought Johnny's shares.
In 2018, Carla was suffering from kidney failure and Aidan donated one of his to her - saving her life. To show her gratitude, Carla decided to gift her shares of the factory to him for his birthday. Unfortunately, less than a month later Aidan tragically committed suicide. Before his death Aidan had written up a will which left his shares of the factory to Alya Nazir, Aidan intended for Alya only to receive his 18% share but due to Carla giving him her entire share Alya was entitled to everything.
The curse of Underworld
The site of Underworld has been said to be "cursed" as a string of bad luck and deaths has plagued the area ever since its construction in 1997. However, some suggest that the "curse" began as far back as the 1970s when the site was occupied by a row of seven flats until a fire in January 1971 - started by an electrical fault which claimed the life of Valerie Barlow - exposed structural faults which left no option but to condemn the flats. After this a warehouse was constructed, along with a new Community Centre, but another fire in October 1975 - this time claiming the life of machinist Edna Gee and an unidentified individual - led to the decision not to rebuild and over 200 people lost their jobs overnight.
Businessman Mike Baldwin was next to take on the area - opening his second denim factory on the restored grounds. But the misfortune continued as in January 1978 wages clerk Ernest Bishop was shot dead by Ed Jackson and Dave Lester in a botched factory raid and later in October 1997 Don Brennan attempted to enact revenge on Mike - before perishing in a collision with the neighbouring viaduct. A third fire took place in March 2004 - when Janice Battersby discarded a cigarette on a pile of clothes in the stockroom, fortunately nobody lost their life in this incident as Nick Tilsley was able to rescue Janice from the blaze. Following a battle with Alzheimer's, Underworld's first owner Mike Baldwin died in the arms of long-rival Ken Barlow on the factory steps in April 2006 after suffering a heart attack. During his last few months Mike deteriorated until he was unrecognisable as his former self - this led to a battle between Mike's sons Danny Baldwin and Adam Barlow over their father's shares of the factory. Brothers Paul and Liam Connor conned naive Adam into selling his 40% shares in the factory to them, for far less than they were worth, and a frustrated Danny decided to sell up too.
The curse would soon catch up with the Connor brothers, and Paul's wife Carla Connor, when in April 2007 Polish employee Kasia Barowicz fell down the stairs to her death. As she had been working illegal hours, the bosses were conscious not to contact the police until the next morning - as to not find themselves in trouble. Fellow worker Wiki Dankowska was also convinced to keep quiet (with it being explained to her that Kasia's family would be entitled to compensation if they stuck to their version of events). Not long after Paul passed away in June, having been involved in a car crash reminiscent of Brennan's, and his brother Liam was killed on the orders of Carla's second husband Tony Gordon the following year. Tony's reign of terror continued as he attempted to murder pensioner Jed Stone, but later had a change of heart and decided to spare his life. After being exposed as a murderer, Tony was sent to prison - but escaped in May 2010 to seek revenge on those who had wronged him. Tony held Carla and Hayley Cropper prisoner, before shooting his accomplice Robbie Sloane and setting fire to the factory. Carla and Hayley made it out of the predicament alive, but Tony committed suicide by remaining in the burning factory.
A month after the incident, John Stape and his accomplice Charlotte Hoyle buried their old work colleague Colin Fishwick under the factory whilst Owen Armstrong was overseeing building work. John had previously stolen Colin's identity in order to continue teaching, and during a confrontation Colin died of a heart attack. John went on to murder Charlotte and Colin's mother Joy. In 2011, draining issues resulted in the factory's foundations being dug up and John joined the building team - hoping to ensure Colin's body wasn't found, his wife Fiz Stape caught him in the act and was convinced to help him dispose of the body.
The next dark event to take place in the factory occurred in March 2012 when rapist Frank Foster was murdered. Suspicion fell on owner Carla, his former partner and rape victim, and her lover Peter Barlow - with Peter being arrested for the crime. However, it was later revealed that Frank's own mother Anne was the killer. Peter was also wrongly accused of murdering his mistress Tina McIntyre in 2014, although the real murderer was this time revealed to be Carla's brother (and former Underworld co-owner) Rob Donovan.
The factory was later vandalised on Adam Barlow's orders, when he and Eva Price decided to seek revenge on love-rat Aidan Connor, with the entire roof being removed in September 2017. This decision led to devastating consequences when Aidan's mental health deteriorated over the next year and he committed suicide in May 2018. Then in March 2019, Gary Windass exploited the poorly reconstructed factory roof - hoping to get the job repairing it - but the subsequent collapsed killed local nurse Rana Habeeb. This saw the end of the Connor family's running of the business, as Carla suffered a mental breakdown and decided to give her shares away to the colleagues who could have died in the incident.
Gary's reign of terror continued as he murdered his loan shark Rick Neelan and took his place, ultimately forcing Derek Milligan into helping him buy the factory. Derek ultimately flipped in December 2019 and, wielding a gun, shot Robert Preston and Shona Platt. Robert died from his injuries, while Shona was placed into a coma. Derek himself died after falling from a Helter skelter attraction and died on the grounds outside of Underworld.
The owners of the factory over the years have been:
|Date||Share 1 (50%)||Share 2 (50%)|
|2004–2006||Mike Baldwin||Danny Baldwin|
|Date||Share 1 (60%)||Share 2 (40%)|
|2006||Danny Baldwin||Adam Barlow|
|2006–2007||Paul Connor||Liam Connor|
|2010||Carla Connor||Nick Tilsley|
|Date||Share 1 (70%)||Share 2 (30%)|
|2012||Carla Connor||Rob Donovan|
|Date||Share 1 (51%)||Share 2 (49%)|
|2013||Carla Connor||Peter Barlow|
|Date||Share 1 (50%)||Share 2 (50%)|
|2013–2014||Carla Barlow||Peter Barlow|
|Date||Share 1 (60%)||Share 2 (22%)||Share 3 (18%)|
|2015–2017||Carla Connor||Johnny Connor||Aidan Connor|
|Date||Share 1 (50%)||Share 2 (50%)|
|2018||Carla Connor||Peter Barlow|