Died: 7 December 1983 (M62 motorway, Manchester)
Children: Stanley (m: Nellie Fairclough)
Played by: Peter Adamson
Appeared: 2 February 1961 - Spring 1983
Len Fairclough was a hard-drinking Liverpool-bred builder. He grew up during the tough years of the depression, serving in the Navy on the Russian convoys during the war and returning to the promise of postwar life. He met Nellie Briggs on a double date with his best mate and drinking pal Harry Hewitt (ironically, they wound up with each others' dates) and married her in 1949. They lived at Mawdsley Street and had one child, Stanley.
When we first picked up the thread of Weatherfield life in December 1960, Len lived at Mawdsley Street with Nellie and Stanley, and was so regular a fixture in the Rovers that one wondered how he ever built anything. With his partner and mate Jerry Booth and Harry Hewitt, Len always seemed to be having a ball.
In 1961, Len introduced his good friend Elsie Tanner from No11 to an old Navy buddy, Petty Officer Bill Gregory. Bill and Elsie had a passionate affair that ended in tears in July 1962 when Bill's wife turned up and he left Elsie to return home. Len felt guilty about the rough time Elsie had over the breakup because he had brought them together.
In the 60s, Nellie left Len for another man, taking Stanley with her and permanently turning him against his father. Also around this time, Len stood for local council and was elected, representing the community for several years. Twice Len proposed to Elsie Tanner, but she refused to marry him, saying that it would ruin their longtime friendship.
In 1968, Len moved into Coronation Street (probably to be closer to the Rovers), buying No9 and bringing partners Jerry Booth and Ray Langton with him. They settled into a comfortable bachelor lifestyle. For a time, their younger partner Ray Langton lived with them as well.
In the early 70s, Len first met Rita Littlewood, a nightclub singer. She had a quick fling with Ken Barlow, and then took up with Len, ending a longtime relationship with common-law husband Harry Bates, and impressed Len enough to buy out a newsagents' shop on Rosamund Street and install her as manageress. The shop was named The Kabin and Rita became a fixture in Street life. She took on as assistant the meek Mavis Riley, who also became a longtime character.
In 1974, Len and Rita's relationship almost ended. As a councillor, Len learnt that Coronation Street was to be demolished as part of a proposed redevelopment scheme. He confided in Rita that he was in favour of the scheme, but she thought it wrong and informed the local residents, who had a protest meeting at which Len did not appear. In the end, Len voted against the scheme, but Rita did not come back to him. This left Len in a bind, because he had signed the Kabin over to Rita and she refused to return it to him.
Shortly after breaking with Rita, Len's council connections got him into serious trouble when a battered wife, Lynne Johnson, came to him seeking help. Len kept her at No9 for a short time, but one day left her along and returned to find her murdered. He was taken into custody as a suspect, but later exonerated when Lynne's husband admitted to killing her. Bet Lynch was the only person who visited him in jail, and so Len had a brief affair with her after his release.
In 1975, Ray Langton left No9 to marry Deirdre Hunt. That same year, Jerry died of a heart attack, leaving Len alone in No9. Len began to rebuild his relationship with Rita.
Len and Rita's relationship was on-off throughout the mid-70s until 1977, when Rita was supposed to take an extended contract to sing at a resort in Tenerife. However, when Len drove her to the airport, she couldn't leave him. They married shortly after and Rita moved into No9 with Len.
Although now married, Len and Rita could still be very adversarial. Not long after they married, Rita left Len in a row over making improvements to No9. She disappeared for several months. Len finally tracked her down in Blackpool and she only agreed to return if he would make more concessions to her, beginning with installing central heating in their house.
Len and Rita wanted to have children, but were told that they were too old to adopt. They settled for foster parenting, and took on a young boy John Spencer for a short time, then 13-year-old Sharon Gaskell came to stay with them for a couple of years. They enjoyed an excellent relationship with Sharon and she came to look upon them as her parents. Although Len, Rita and Sharon had a happy family life, when Sharon finished school, she left Weatherfield to take on a job at a kennel in Sheffield, partly to escape the humiliating aftermath of a rejected teenage infatuation with Brian Tilsley. Len and Rita were sad to see her go.
In 1981, Len bought the land next door to No9, where No7 had stood until its collapse in 1965. He draped tarpaulins over the site and began a mysterious project, using foster child Sharon as an assistant. The neighbours speculated that he was extending No9, but when the tarpaulins were removed in 1982, a splendid new house was revealed.
Len had intended to sell the new No7 for a profit, but Rita wanted it for herself and sold No9 behind Len's back, forcing them to move into the new house. Their happiness there would not last long. Shortly after Sharon left, Len fell asleep at the wheel of his van on the motorway and was killed in an accident on 7 December 1983. The news reached Rita as she was singing for Stan and Hilda Ogden's fortieth wedding anniversary in the Select Bar of the Rovers. More shockingly, Rita later found that Len was returning from Bolton from a visit to a previously unknown mistress when he was killed. Although this shocked Rita, she did not allow it to spoil her memories of Len. Rita met the other woman, Marjorie Proctor, and learnt that Len had told her that he loved her, he also loved Rita.
Reference: Coronation Street: Around the
Houses, by Daran Little, Boxtree, London, 1997