Willie Parker’s butcher’s shop in “The Parade” on Aberford Road was a favourite calling point for several generations of local housewives as they shopped for their Sunday joints and daily supplies of mince and sausages.
Born in Leeds in 1904, the son of boot repairer Charlie Parker, Willie started the business in 1925 when he was just 21 years old after serving an apprenticeship at Stephenson’s, a large butcher’s in Holbeck. His parents and brother and sister appear to have moved to live on Holmsley Field Lane in Oulton at about the same time suggesting they came with him to support the new enterprise.
The Parade was owned by Harry Brook who ran a garage next door. His wife, Louise, appears to have been the proprietor of the shop next to the garage. Also there in the 1920s were Roberts’ ladies and gents outfitters, newsagent Ernest Lee, and Bedford’s café.
Willie Parker met his future wife, miner’s daughter Ethel Wilson from Eshald Place, whilst playing at Butler’s tennis club at the top of Oulton Lane in Woodlesford. After they married in 1931 and moved into their new home at Midland View on Aberford Road they expanded the business by taking over the end shop and turning it into a pork butcher’s. There Ethel made brawn, polony and pork pies assisted by Norman Blackburn, whilst Willie concentrated on the beef trade in his original shop with Arthur Sykes. The pork shop eventually closed at the start of the Second World War.
Over the years the other shops on The Parade changed hands several times. The pork shop became a greengrocer’s and the café was turned into a fish shop run by Edith Raw from Claremont View helped by her daughter Connie. In turn they passed it on to Ronnie Carter who had worked with his mother in another fish shop in a small corrugated iron building on the opposite side of Aberford Road next to the Methodist chapel. In those days, with a large workforce at Water Haigh colliery, Bentley’s brewery and Armitage’s quarry and brickworks, there was enough business to keep both satisfied. The outfitter’s became a doctor’s surgery and Ernest Lee moved into a shop further along Aberford Road near the post office.
In the early years Willie Parker bought his own live animals which were killed at a slaughter house in Rothwell but during the Second World War he joined the Rothwell Butchers’ Association which became responsible for supplying the meat. From the start Willie had a small van for making home deliveries which ranged over a wide area from Methley and Stanley through Rothwell to Swillington. Young assistants, including Rodney Proud in the 1930s and Ken Naylor during the war, made local deliveries by bicycle. One substantial customer was the mental hospital at Oulton Hall where Willie’s brother, Herbert, taught boot and shoe repairing to some of the inmates.
In 1938 Willie and Ethel and their two children moved to live in Swillington but he continued to run the shop in Oulton for 40 years until he retired in 1966 handing it on to Fred Banks from Rothwell who had been his assistant.