Married: Stan Ogden (4 December
Played by: Jean Alexander
Appeared: 1964 - 25 December 1987
Hilda Ogden was a legendary figure in Coronation Street for years, her pinny and headscarf covering her curlers a trademark that made her one of the most recognized women in Britain. It was very strange to see her without her curlers, at least after she had entered middle age. But there was much more to Hilda than a gossiping char...
Hilda Crabtree knew that Stanley Ogden was the man for her the minute she tripped over him in a wartime blackout. Six days later, they were married and remained so for over forty years, struggling together against fate, which always seemed to have it in for them.
Hilda was a wife of the old school, and believed that it was her duty to tend Stan in every way and take whatever came. For the first twenty years of their marriage, Stan worked away as a long-distance lorry driver, leaving Hilda to look after their children as best she could on her wages as a cleaner. When Stan was home, he drank heavily and was violent. However, Hilda accepted this as the way things should be.
Hilda and Stan had four children: two sons and two daughters. The eldest was Irma (originally Freda), then Trevor (originally Dudley), and two younger children Sylvia and Tony, whom Coronation Street viewers never saw because they had been taken into council care following one of Stan's drunken rages.
In June 1964, Stan and Hilda bought No13 Coronation Street from Jerry Booth and moved in lock, stock and barrel with Irma and Trevor in tow. They settled quickly into the street, and Hilda became cleaner at the Rovers when Martha Longhurst died. She remained in that post for over twenty years, giving Annie Walker her share of grief over that time.
Hilda's son Trevor was fourteen when the Ogdens moved to Coronation Street, and quickly got into trouble. He stole money from the neighbours and ran away, writing only to tell his parents to disown him. Hilda was saddened by the event, but Trevor's name ceased to be mentioned, and would not be for many years.
Irma was less of a disappointment, working in Florrie Lindley's shop. In 1965, at the age of 19, she eloped with footballer David Barlow. When David was disqualified from playing by an injury in 1966, he and Irma bought the shop. David did not like Irma giving Hilda endless credit and free goods, so Irma made her mother an assistant in the shop while she took a job in the PVC factory across the road, much to David's chagrin. The arrangement ended in 1968 when David and Irma emigrated to Australia and the shop was sold to Les and Maggie Clegg.
With her children gone, Hilda settled down to a quiet life with Stan. They weren't communicative or emotional with each other, and quite often just sat unspeaking at the kitchen table. Although quiet at home, Hilda was the street's best gossip, and considered herself a natural in occult matters. She briefly set herself up as a fortune-teller, using a goldfish bowl as a crystal ball and charging for her predictions. She was horrified when she found out that Stan had taken a hand in trying to make the predictions come true, releasing a mouse in the Rovers when Hilda predicted trouble for Annie Walker.
The late sixties were a depressing time for the Ogdens. Stan was not working steadily and Hilda struggled to make ends meet on her wages as a cleaner. Hilda was stuck in a dreary back street, surrounded by bricks, factory walls and rubbish, and there she seemed fated to stay for the rest of her life. In 1967, she suffered a nervous breakdown and disappeared, still wearing her slippers. Stan alerted the police and waited anxiously. After two days Hilda was found, wandering in Liverpool in a daze. A doctor told Stan that he should pay more attention to Hilda, but things quickly returned to their previous state. Stan and Hilda never again mentioned what had happened, and Hilda didn't relapse, but the rut that they were stuck in haunted the Ogdens for the rest of their days. However, afterwards Stan bought a window cleaning round and for a few years was more steadily employed.
The seventies brought Hilda a long streak of bad luck. Their son-in-law David Barlow and grandson Darren were killed in a car accident in Australia, their house had to be fumigated, Stan was suspected of being a peeping Tom, and a chimney accident caused coal soot to ruin their furniture. Hilda blamed their bad luck on No 13 and ordered Stan to change the house number to No12A. Hilda prepared a roast lamb dinner to celebrate, but when she went outside to see the new numbers inadvertently locked them both out. By the time Stan broke in, their dinner was burned. It seemed that No13 wasn't unlucky, Hilda and Stan were. On top of this, the council ordered them to change the number back.
In the late seventies, Stan and Hilda tracked Trevor down to Chesterfield and went to visit him, only to find out that he had told his wife, Polly, that his parents were dead. It was a blow to them, but like everything else, Stan and Hilda seemed to just accept it and move on as usual.
Around this time one bright spot lifted Hilda's spirits. She won a contest and the prize was a second honeymoon at the Savoy Hotel, complete with champagne. Although Stan fell asleep before Hilda even made it to bed, it was a treasured memory for Hilda as she grew old.
Not much good ever seemed to happen to the Ogdens. Hilda aspired to a better life, trying to make No13 a little classier with a mural (or 'muriel', as she called it) of the Alps covering one entire wall in the living room, and three plaster ducks on it. Stan ruined it by overflowing his bath upstairs, and replaced it with another scene.
As Stan neared sixty, he spent more and more time off work complaining of a bad back. Hilda took in more cleaning jobs to compensate, cleaning Mike Baldwin's factory, and later Dr Lowther's house in Oakhill. She ran herself ragged working, keeping house and keeping Stan, and finally decided that she had had enough. She gave Stan a good telling-off and ordered him out of the house. Surprisingly, Stan went and disappeared for three weeks. Hilda was anxious and got Stan's drinking pal Eddie Yeats to help look for him. Stan turned up in a chip shop owned by Hilda's brother Norman Crabtree, helping himself to the chips and Norman's assistant/girlfriend Edie Blundell. An angry Hilda gave Edie what-for and dragged Stan home to resume their dull lives as before.
In the early eighties, Eddie Yeats lodged with the Ogdens, and they became almost a family. Eddie was very fond of them, and he of them.
In May 1983 Hilda's brother Archie died, leaving her his fish and chip shop. this was sold on, and for once in their life the Ogdens had a little comfort in their lives when in September 1983 Hilda was sent a cheque for £1,583 as her inheritence. She celbrated by opening a bank account and taking Stan for a posh meal at the top restaurant La Parisienne.
In the November Eddie married his girlfriend Marion Willis and shortly after left the Street, and in December 1983 Hilda and Stan celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary with a slap-up party in the Rovers' Select. However, ill luck haunted them even on this day; Len Fairclough was killed in a road accident and the police came to the party to inform Rita, who was singing for the Ogdens.
In 1984, Stan's health deteriorated badly and he became housebound. Hilda worked herself to collapse, cleaning for other people all day, looking after her own home, and nursing Stan. One of her cleaning clients, Dr. Lowther, saw that Hilda was under too much strain for a woman in her sixties, and recommended that Stan be placed in hospital. Hilda acquiesced, but was afraid that being in hospital would make Stan lose his will to live. She was right; after a short time in the hospital, Stan died in his sleep in November 1984.
Although Stan had never been very communicative or affectionate, without him Hilda was very lonely. She took in lodgers to busy herself, and Kevin Webster lived with her for more than two years. Hilda moved Kevin's bride-to-be Sally Seddon into No13 as well, to escape her abusive father. Hilda insisted that there be no impropriety under her roof, and set up an elaborate trap on the stairs to keep Kevin from coming up to visit Sally in the night. Sally managed to find her way down over the barricade, but when Hilda was awakened and went downstairs to investigate, she tripped and hurt her ankle.
Hilda continued her cleaning jobs, but found life at No13 very lonely. About this time No13 also needed repair: the roof was giving out. Hilda considered selling up to Alf Roberts, who wanted to expand his shop, and asked her boss Mike Baldwin for advice, but with Mike's interference a deal could not be struck and Hilda didn't sell the house.
In 1986, Kevin and Sally married and moved into the flat over Alf Roberts' shop next door. The next year, Dr. Lowther and his wife retired to move to the country. The night before they were due to leave, Hilda stayed with them to help pack. In the night, burglars broke into the Lowthers' house and attacked them, killing Mrs Lowther and putting Hilda in the hospital. After that, Hilda became afraid to live on her own and spent much of her time locked up in No 13 with her cat Rommel.
At Christmas 1987, shortly after she had been attacked, Dr Lowther came to Hilda and asked her to move to the country to keep house for him. Hilda saw it as her way out of the dreary life of Weatherfield's back streets and accepted. The day after Christmas, she locked up No13 for the last time, selling her house to Kevin and Sally Webster. With that, Hilda Ogden's pinny, curlers and headscarf were seen in Coronation Street no more.
References: Coronation Street: Around the Houses, by Daran
Little, Boxtree, London, 1997; Official Coronation Street