8.6 – Alfred, Ann, Beryl and Phyllis Barker

There was a week in Todmorden where it was noted that there had been a succession of deaths amongst ‘highly respected townsmen’. One of these men, Alfred Barker, is buried at Christ Church. Alfred was a grocer, and his shop was at 51 Halifax Road. He married Ann Greenwood and they had three children : Percival, Beryl and Phyllis. Alfred had suffered from an ulcerated stomach and had been taken to the Manchester Infirmary for treatment. Here, a successful operation was performed and it was looking like Alfred was well on the way to recovery. Unfortunately, Alfred was to develop pneumonia whilst at the hospital, and this was ultimately the cause of his death.

Detail from a photograph in Todmorden Album Vol. 5 by Roger Birch, showing Alfred Barker in the doorway to his shop at Roomfield Buildings

His son Percival took over the grocery shop at Halifax Road, he married Lucy Grace Halstead and they had several children together. Both Beryl and Phyllis were to remain spinsters, Beryl became a school teacher. Alfred’s widow Ann passed away in 1958 at the age of 96.

Todmorden & District News – Friday 06 March 1908

The great reaper has been particularly busy amongst the tradesmen of Todmorden during the past week, no less than four well known and highly respected men of that class having been gathered home, nearly all of them more or less unexpectedly. First, on the eve of our last publication, Mr. Alfred Barker, grocer, Roomfield-buildings, succumbed after what was regarded as a successful operation at Manchester Infirmary, for ulcerated stomach, pneumonia being the cause to which death was attributed. Then on the following day, while starting for a holiday in the Canary Islands, for the benefit of his health (bronchitis and asthma having haunted him for some weeks back), Mr. Thomas Robinson, the local manufacturer of sweets, fell dead at the station, a weak heart accounting for his unexpected demise. Next in order comes the death of Mr. William Nuttall, landlord of the Rope and Anchor Inn, Halifax-road; he had been suffering from pneumonia for some days, and succumbed on Tuesday morning. And in the evening of the same day still another well known tradesman was removed, in the person of Mr. Laban Greenwood, butcher, Brook-street, who died from apoplexy after a very brief attack. All these gentemen were exceedingly well known and much respected in their respective circles, and will be much missed not only by their sorrowing families but by many people with whom they were associated either in business or other ways. Still another tradesman might be added to the losses in the person of Mr. Fred Fielden, of Shade, who in addition to following his avocation as a taper conducted a small grocery business at Shade; he died after an operation for a painful complaint, a week ago yesterday; and on Sunday, a well known tradesman, Mr. Wm. Barker, Nutfield-street, insurance agent and late caretaker of Sobriety Hall, fell a victim to pneumonia, the fell disease which had carried off two of those named previously. Truly we say say, after these sad examples, “In the midst of life we are in death.””

Not forgetting Alfred and Ann’s daughters – Beryl remained active with Wellington Road Baptist Chapel for her entire life, and also went to college and became Assistant Mistress of the “infants division” of Vale Council School in 1907 at the age of 21. Phyllis sadly is harder to track down, but also is mentioned here and there in the newspapers available online in relation to school achievements. It’s a secret why both remained unmarried, but their father’s successful business hopefully allowed them to remain well placed to live comfortably as single women.

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