Minnie Caldwell

Full name:
Bob and Amy Carlton

Armistead (1925)

Played by: Margot Bryant
1960 - 1976

Minnie was quiet and timid and was always being bossed around by her friend Ena Sharples, who she was regularly to be found with in the Snug at the Rovers Return, drinking milk stout along with Martha Longhurst. Though Minnie once said of Ena "She bullies me. She always has... in the name of Christianity", they were always there for each other and whenever Ena was ill, or was unable or unwilling to live at the Mission, Minnie provided her with a bed. Minnie lived round the corner from Coronation Street at 15 Jubilee Terrace, but when her bed-ridden mother died in 1962 at the ripe old age of 94, she decided she could no longer live there and with the help of Leonard Swindley, who spoke to the landlord and agreed a fair rent, she moved in to No5 with her cat Bobby.

Having retired from Earnshaw's Mill in 1960, Minnie began to take in lodgers to help supplement her pension. Many came and went, some staying a few days, others years, but her favourites were petty crook Jed Stone and failed comic Charlie Moffitt. Minnie's husband died in 1935 after being married for 10 years and the couple never had any children, but Jed fast became the son she never had, with Jed calling her 'Ma' while she called him 'Sunny Jim'. He filled her front room with all sorts of dodgy gear which he sold on market stalls and Ena thought he was a bad influence on Minnie, but he brightened up her life no end.

After 'borrowing' Harry Hewitt's car, Jed left Minnie's and returned to his home town of Liverpool. His room was ultimately taken by Charlie 'Chuckles' Moffitt and his menagerie, which consisted of his greyhound 'Little Titch', six rabbits and eight pigeons. Minnie enjoyed mothering the accident-prone, unfunny comedian, but wasn't pleased when he and Stan Ogden started brewing beer in her front room, telling her it was tonic wine. She and Emily Nugent opened one of the bottles and proceeded to get drunk, but were more than startled when all the remaining bottles exploded. Having failed to make a success of his new career as the local insurance representative, Charlie decided to have another go at showbusiness and moved away, only to be replaced my Minnie's old favourite, Jed.

Jed's return was to be short-lived as his criminal activities finally caught up with him when he was arrested for handling stolen blankets. Whilst preparing for Minnie's birthday party, the police came to arrest him, but taking pity on him, they allowed him to finish the preparations and tell Minnie that he was going off to see a sick friend. After he left, Minnie burst into floods of tears, only too well aware of where he was actually going. Jed was sentenced to 18 months in Walton and asked Minnie to auction off his belongings, which due to his lovable character raised far more than they were actually worth. Despite never returning, Jed's place in Minnie's heart was reaffirmed when Bobby disappeared and was replaced by a stray found up on the viaduct, which Minnie called 'Sunny Jim' - though she later re-named him Bobby.

Minnie was a vulnerable old lady and if Ena wasn't around to protect her, people would take advantage of her kind, trusting nature. When a 50 insurance policy matured after thirty years, she immediately lost 20 of it to a con-man masquerading as a plumber. On more than one occasion she would blow her pension on a new coat or some fancy tidbits for Bobby, only to find that she was unable to pay the coalman and had to spend the rest of the week wrapped up in bed. Things finally came to a head when she fell foul of her worst vice and ended up owing bookie Dave Smith 10. Unable to pay when he pushed her for payment, she disapperaed, leaving a note for Ena asking her to look after Sunny Jim. Ena traipsed the streets looking for her old friend, while the residents turned on Smith for victimizing a poor old woman. After spending a couple of nights on a park bench, Minnie was admitted to hospital with pneumonia and tried unsuccessfully to keep the staff from telling anybody where she was. Bowing to pressure from his other customers, Smith took her flowers, wiped the slate clean and limited her betting to two shillings a week.

1969 was not a good year for Minnie. As well as spending time in hospital with pneumonia, she was injured in a coach crash when the residents of the Street took a trip to the Lake District. Her old friend Ena, who had escaped with only a few bruises, kept up an all-night bedside vigil as Minnie lay unconcious. Minnie recovered from her injuries and went on to recite "The Owl and the Pussycat" at the Street's Christmas Talent Night. The following year started out somewhat better as Minnie rekindled her friendship with old school flame, Handel Gartside, who had returned to Weatherfield having made his fortune in Quebec. She took him in as a part-time lodger and made Ena jealous by cooking his meals for him, though Handel had his nose put out of joint when Billy Walker came to stay while the Rovers was being decorated. But things were about to get worse for Minnie. Joe Donelli had turned up claiming to have been demobbed from the US Army, when in reality he was a deserter who had killed Steve Tanner over an unpaid debt. Minnie took him in as a lodger and was held hostage at gunpoint by him after he confessed the truth to Irma Ogden. Unaware that Joe had a gun, Stan Ogden burst into the house to remonstrate with him over the way he had treated Stan's daughter. Stan managed to talk Joe into releasing Minnie, but then he turned his gun on Stan and forced him to sing carols. A single shot rang out as Joe turned the gun on himself and ended his life.

Having stopped taking in lodgers, Minnie's biggest worry continued to be money, both the lack of it and decimalisation. Albert Tatlock thought that he had the answer to both their money problems and popped the question. Minnie was quite keen on the idea as long as Albert moved into No5, but insisted that he ask Ena's permission first, as is only right and proper. Ena got the wrong end of the stick and accepted Albert's proposal on her own behalf. Minnie and Albert came to an understanding, but then Ena told them that they wouldn't be better off financially as they had thought and although Albert was still willing to go through with the marriage if Minnie was, his irritating habits, like drinking his tea from a saucer, had started to get on her nerves and so they called it off. Jed Stone's Walton cell-mate, Eddie Yeats, turned up on her doorstep and out of friendship for her old lodger, she took him in but Minnie's health was deteriorating and after meeting up again with Handel Gartside, she finally retired with Bobby to Whaley Bridge to keep house for him.

"I know folk think I'm simple. What I say to them is that I'd rather be simple and 'ave my pleasures than know everything and be miserable, like Ena."


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