Friday, 24 September 2010

Savage '70s - Part 1: The Siege At No 5

The first of an occasional series in which we take a look at the horrors inflicted on the good folk of Coronation Street by our three chosen decades.

Sadistic '60s
, Savage '70s and Evil '80s will blast our rosy coloured specs off!

We begin with a look at 1970, where we find the Swinging '60s had absolutely ceased to swing, and the people of Coronation Street were starting to count the cost. Albert Tatlock (Jack Howarth), depressed by the state of things, locked himself inside No 1, while police officer Cyril Turpin (William Moore) was forced to retire when he attacked a criminal with a lead pipe. The man had been terrorising Cyril's wife, Betty (Betty Driver).

The year thudded to an end with the sound of a single gunshot ringing out from No 5.

The second edition of The Street magazine from 1989 had the details, together with the marvellous mock-up of the Weatherfield Gazette front page pictured above:



A single shot rang out in Coronation Street last night and an American G.I. fell dead. Before turning his gun on himself Sergeant Joe Donnelli confessed to an unsolved murder in 1968

Local man Stanley Ogden became a hero when he saved hostage, Minnie Caldwell, from the hands of a crazed gunman.

Mr Ogden of Coronation Street managed to persuade the gunman to release Mrs Caldwell in exchange for himself in the tense drama which unfolded yesterday at 5 Coronation Street, the home of Mrs Caldwell.

The siege ended when Donnelli, an American Army deserter, shot himself with his own gun.

Donnelli was very popular in Coronation Street and had been a visitor for some years. The locals in The Rovers Return had only good to say of him. Mrs Annie Walker the landlady described him as "a polite, courteous and friendly" person.

When he gave the officers who came to arrest him for desertion the slip he fled to the nearby flat of an old flame, Mrs Irma Barlow. It was to her that he confessed to the murder, in 1968, of Master Sergeant Steve Tanner (44), at Clayton Court Service Flats. An open verdict was recorded on the event.

A Police spokesman said the investigation would be reopened. Tanner's wife Elsie still lives in Coronation Street.

It is understood that a large debt existed between Donnelli and Tanner.
Donnelli was apprehended in the vicinity of the Rovers Return and burst into a nearby house where he held hostage its resident Mrs Minnie Caldwell (70).

After firing shots from the window he surprisingly allowed local lorry driver Stanley Ogden (48) into the house. Mr Ogden, who is the father of Mrs Barlow, tried to talk Donnelli into handing over his gun but to no avail - he turned the gun on himself and the siege was over.


Stan's wife Hilda (45) watched anxiously from the street while her husband was inside.

During the nerve-wracking vigil she kept a bold face and was always confident that "her Stan" would pull it off.

"My Stan's never flinched from anything," she said. "Old Hitler couldn't scare him off, so he won't worry much about this Yank."

Stan, a hero? Of course, things were not quite as they seemed!

Marvellous though the Weatherfield Gazette mock-up is, there is one flaw: the featured photograph of Coronation Street could not have been taken in 1970 - in fact it must date from a number of years later. Do you know why?


  1. The front door is the one Mike Baldwin had put on when he set up his love nest with Bet Lynch about 6 years later!

  2. Exactly right - well done!

  3. I was just going to say about the front door! Too late! :))