Ena Sharples (Nee Schofield) was a character in Coronation Street from the first episode, Episode 1 (9 Dec 1960) to Ep 1983 - 2 Apr 1980, although she appeared less often from 1974 to 1980, and did not appear any time inbetween Ep 1369 - 27 Feb 1974 and Ep 1453 - 18 Dec 1974. She was the formidable battleaxe of the show in the 1960s and in the early years she was great friends with Minnie Caldwell and Martha Longhurst. Ena did mellow as time wore on. Ena was once one of the main characters in the show until 1974 when she begun to spend more and more time away from Weatherfield due to the actress Violet Carson's failing health. Violet played her until 1980.
Ena Schofield was born on the 14th November 1899 in Weatherfield. She was the daughter of Thomas Schofield and Mary Schofield. She was the youngest of 3 siblings. In 1904, aged 5 she posed in a class photo at Bessie Street School. One of Ena's old schoolfriends was Dora Braithwaite, who left Weatherfield in June 1914, 2 months before WW1 started. In 1920 she married Alfred Sharples. In 1921 she had a daughter Vera Sharples, and a daughter Madge Sharples in 1924 and a son Ian Sharples who died as a baby. In 1937 Alfred died. Ena never remarried. She remained very close friends with Minnie Caldwell and Martha Longhurst. In 1950, her daughter Madge emigrated.
Ena was around 70 years old in 1960 (This was later altered by the writers to her being early 60s, probably to fit her in with the actress' age). In December 1960, Ena was the live in caretaker at the Mission Hall, and was often seen by chairman Leonard Swindley drinking in the Rovers, and this worried Swindley as he wanted Ena to act responsibly. But Ena bought Swindley down with a tongue lashing. Soon after, Ena was in hospital and often insulted the nurses there, and worried that Martha was trying to take over her vestry. Ena discharged herself. In 1961 Ena was sent to Coventry for rumour mongering. In 1961, Elsie accused Ena of sending a poison pen letter. Ena denied it, saying if she had sent it she'd have signed it. Ena was a strong woman in Coronation Street, and often used as a scapegoat for whenever rumours were spread due to her acid tongue, but rumours and gossip was not always down to Ena. In 1962, Ena suffered a minor stroke. Ena, Minnie and Martha often frequented the Snug of the Rovers Return, putting the world to rights. Ena's sister died in 1963 aged 80.
In May 1964, Ena and Minnie were grief stricken when Martha died suddenly of a heart attack. Ena said Martha was 68 though, so it could happen to a woman her age. In January 1965, Ena became Elsie's new landlady and Elsie had yet another row in the street. Ena later helped her daughter Vera out with money worries. Ena gave Vera money from her savings to help her out. In May 1966, due to helping her daughter out recently with money, a depressed Ena was caught stealing and later fined 40/-. To offset her money problems, Ena took on the job of live-in housekeeper at No.9 for Len Fairclough, although when the Community Centre at the Mission closed down, Ena moved back into the vestry.
In late 1966, her daughter Vera Lomax came to stay, and it was later revealed that she had a brain tumour. In January 1967, Vera Lomax died. In May 1967 Ena almost died when a train crashed into the street. The Mission Hall was closed for good a few months later and in January 1968, Ena watched it being demolished. She lodged with Minnie then went to St Anne's before returning and being offered an OAP flat. She later moved into the new community centre flat, of which she was a caretaker of. Ena's age and ability to do the work was a constant concern to the Council. A co-caretaker was foisted on her and this man was Albert Tatlock, though she insisted on being called Senior Caretaker.
In 1973, Ena suffered two heart attacks, but refused to move away as she wanted to die in the street. When she disappeared with the Centre keys at Christmas, preventing the children from getting any presents, Ena assumed she'd be sacked and left to stay with Henry Foster in St. Anne's, although she was allowed to keep her job.
In February 1974, Ena left to stay in St Anne's for an extended period.
Ena Sharples returned to Weatherfield in December 1974, just before Christmas. She returned to St Anne's at the end of 1974 and returned to Weatherfield in March 1975. As she aged, Ena began to spend more and more time away from Coronation Street, and more time staying with old friend Henry Foster in St Anne's. Ena still resided in the Community Centre whenever she did come back to Coronation Street. As she was an older woman, Ena was not as fiery and feisty as she used to be 5 to 10 years earlier.
In July 1976, Ena was almost conned by Frank Holmes and his mate Jim Pitts who claimed to be from the council and said he installed showers. Eddie Yeats saw Holmes off by performing a citizens arrest. Whether Pitts was caught is unknown. October 1976 also saw one of her great friends Minnie Caldwell leave Coronation Street to move to Derbyshire. One of Ena's other close friends Martha Longhurst had died 12 years before, and now Minnie was living away from Coronation Street. In July 1977 a local Councillor, Jim Tattersall, tried to oust Ena from the community centre but Alf and Len found out that Tattersall wanted his niece to have the job. Alf, Len and Ernie rallied around Ena and saw Tattersall off.
In August 1977, 77 year old Ena left the street to stay in Hartlepool and did not return until March 1978. Fellow residents used to rally round this once hairnetted horror, seeing her as a vulnerable old woman. She felt like she had no friends left. She grew weaker and more tired and she would spend months away living in Lytham St Anne's. She returned again in February 1980. In April 1980 Ena left Coronation Street yet again, saying she would decide if she was to come back. However she never returned to Coronation Street or Weatherfield. She was 80 when she left Weatherfield for the last time.
Life after leaving Coronation Street in 1980
It is not known exactly what happened to Ena once she left Coronation Street. The best info is that Ena died in 1983, see below.
In Ep 2997 - 27 Nov 1989 it was very likely confirmed that Ena had died, as when the factory, Baldwin's Casuals, Coronation Street was being demolished, Deirdre Barlow said that Ena Sharples would turn in her grave at that side of the street being redeveloped yet again. Deirdre may have heard that Ena had died, or she may have assumed she had died by then but was not sure, however it is more likely that she heard about Ena's death. Ena would have been 90 by 1989 if she had lived. This 1989 reference is the best reference to Ena's fate.
In the 1985 spin-off video The Jubilee Years Ken revealed that Ena had passed away a "couple of years ago". This would place her death around 1983, the same year that Violet Carson passed away. Spin off videos probably are seen as canon as it would be pointless making them if they were not canonical. Only spoofs or songs are not seen as canon. This spin off video is the best reference to when Ena died.
Behind the Scenes
- In 1960, Ena was supposed to be around 70 years of age, and in an early episode she said she was the street's oldest resident. This would make her older than Albert Tatlock who was 65 in 1960. If Ena was about 70 in 1960, she'd have been born around 1890. However in 1966 she said she was 67, thus making her born in 1899. Her age was probably altered to make her the same age as actress Violet Carson who was born in 1898.
- In the mid 1980s, Phyllis Pearce was branded the new Ena, however Phyllis had little to no personality traits that Ena had. Phyllis was jolly and never a gossip, Ena could be cantankerous. The best Ena type character was 1990s character Maud Grimes.
- Violet Carson became more recurring in the role of Ena from 1974 onwards due to ill health and eventually made her final appearance in the programme in April 1980. This wasn't actually intended to be her final appearance, but ill health meant she couldn't reprise the role for future appearances. The last known time she donned the costume of Ena Sharples was in June 1980, when she appeared on a cover for a TV Times Special titled Coronation Street 2000 to celebrate the show's 2000 episodes, and appeared alongside with the remaining original characters Ken Barlow, Albert Tatlock and Elsie Tanner.
- Older photos of Violet Carson pre-Coronation Street was used for the book Weatherfield Life, which provided a backstory to Coronation Street and gave a fictional history spanning from 1902 to 1992 (the year the book was released).
"I'm Mrs Sharples." First line.
"I'm fast coming to the conclusion Albert Tatlock, that the air up there is much more to my liking than round here these days. And you can take that any way you like! I don't suppose either of you thought of putting the kettle on, did yer?" Final Line, to Albert Tatlock and Ken Barlow.
List of addresses
|Inkerman Street||1899 to 1937|
|Glad Tidings Vestry||1937 to April 1961|
|7 Mawdsley Street||April to May 1961|
|Glad Tidings Vestry||May 1961 to November 1961|
|15 Jubilee Terrace||November 1961 to February 1962|
|Glad Tidings Vestry||February 1962 to October 1963|
|5 Coronation Street||October 1963 to 13th November 1963|
|Glad Tidings Vestry||13th November 1963 to April 1966|
|5 Coronation Street||April 1966 to June 1966|
|Glad Tidings Vestry||June 1966 to January 1968|
|5 Coronation Street||January 1968 to 14th February 1968|
|St Annes||14th February 1968 to May 1968|
|5 Coronation Street||May 1968 to June 1968|
|6 Coronation Street (Maisonettes)||June 1968 to July 1969|
|Camera Shop flat, Rosamund Street||July 1969 to May 1971|
|Community Centre flat, Coronation Street||May 1971 to December 1973|
|5 Coronation Street||December 1973 to February 1974|
|St Annes||February 1974 to 18th December 1974|
|5 Coronation Street||18th to 30th December 1974|
|St Annes||December 1974 to March 1975|
|5 Coronation Street||March 1975 to October 1975|
|Community Centre flat||October 1975 to 4th February 1980|
|11 Coronation Street||4th to 6th February 1980|
|St Annes||6th February 1980 to 31st March 1980|
|1 Coronation Street||31st March to 2nd April 1980|
|St Annes||2nd April 1980 to circa 1983|
|Factory worker||Factory||c.1910 to unknown date|
|Caretaker||Glad Tidings Mission Hall||1930s to 1968|
|Caretaker||Community Centre||1971 to March 1980|
Appearances: 9 December 1960–27 February 1974, 18 December 1974–30 December 1974, 19 Mar 1975-10 August 1977, 27 March–27 December 1978, 5 March 1979–2 April 1980
Born: 14th November 1899, Weatherfield, Salford, Lancashire
Died: c.1983 (at St Anne's)
Full Name: Ena Sharples (Nee Schofield)
Spouses: Alfred Sharples (1920-1937)
Grandchildren: Colin Lomax
Great Grandchildren: Jason Lomax