Coronation Street star visited Weston to discover family link

PUBLISHED: 10:00 22 January 2015

File photo dated 29/01/14 of Coronation Street actress Anne Kirkbride, who played Deirdre Barlow, has died after a short illness, her husband David Beckett said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday January 19, 2015. See PA story DEATH Kirkbride. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

File photo dated 29/01/14 of Coronation Street actress Anne Kirkbride, who played Deirdre Barlow, has died after a short illness, her husband David Beckett said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday January 19, 2015. See PA story DEATH Kirkbride. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

A CORONATION Street actress who died this week had links to Weston, which were once explored in a television show.

Anne Kirkbride, aged 60, was best known for walking the famous cobbles while playing Deirdre Barlow.

She died on Monday following a short illness, and her co-stars paid tribute to her 42-year career on the ITV soap.

But although she was born in Oldham in Manchester, she had family connections in Weston.

In 2007, she travelled to the town as part of the ITV series You Don’t Know You’re Born, where she met Weston historian Brian Austin.

Her great-great-grandfather John Kirkbride was born in 1820 and Mr Austin told Anne all about him when she met with him on the Grand Pier.

He said: “She was a very nice lady.

“She was very straightforward. Some actors can be a pain in the neck but she was very straightforward.

“She was very interested in finding out about her family.

“The show wasn’t like Who Do You Think You Are? because they had to do the jobs their ancestors did.

“I felt really sorry for her because the day before, she had been ploughing in a field and they dragged her out of bed in Manchester to come down here in the freezing cold.

“She was on the Grand Pier for three hours and then she went back to Manchester.”

John Kirkbride ran the Queens Hotel on the corner of Regent Street and what was formerly Union Street and now High Street.

Mr Austin said he was a ‘much-respected’ town councillor and the original patron of the music hall, which was founded in 1867.

John had six children including portrait artist Thomas, who was Anne’s grandfather.

He moved to Ohio in the United States of America where he carried out ordinance surveys and drew wealthy people’s homes.

But after five years, he returned to the UK and moved to Oldham.

One of John’s grandchildren later became Weston’s first traffic warden.

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