Echoes of the past: Tribute paid to Barry Parker

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It was 42 years ago the old Brighouse Borough Council came to an end and we all became part of Calderdale, a place that did not exist until 1974.

This photograph shows the senior Brighouse Borough councils officials who all came together for what would have been the last time prior to the amalgamation. Back Row (left to right): Barry Parker (assistant housing manager), Gerry Norrie (deputy town clerk), Gordon Denham (acting deputy borough treasurer), Willie Jennings (public health officer), Bob Milner (cemetery superintendent), Dr. Brock (medical officer),Brian Berry (deputy borough treasurer), Frank Clayton (housing manager), John Jebson (deputy librarian), Ian Leach (deputy borough engineer). Seated: Clifford Bland (borough engineer), David Young (borough treasurer), John Liddle (town clerk) and Jim Bailey (chief librarian).

Whilst some had served the council for many years and decided to retire when the council finally came to and end. Some did go on to work for the newly created Calderdale council.

One of them was Barry Parker who worked in the housing department throughout his council career. I am sure many readers who lived in a council owned property will remember Barry.

Sadly Barry passed away a few weeks ago and I attended his funeral earlier this week. His passing brought back many memories for me when I worked with him and his office at the housing department in Lawson Road.

I first met Barry during the very late 1950s when I would be about 10 years old and lived in Holtby Grove on Stoney Lane estate.

I often saw him walking round the estate carrying his satchel as one of the council rent collectors and our house was just one of hundreds on the Lightcliffe estates he collected the weekly rent from.

Always a smile and a kind word for everyone, that was going to be his way of dealing with tenants throughout his career.

As I got older and Barry climbed the ladder of promotion I did not see him again until the mid 1970s. I was now the community constable for the estates where I used to live and where Barry had been the rent collector.

I would often call in at his office on Lawson Road with a neighbourly complaint which sometimes we could sort out and then on other occasions we couldn’t. We always worked well together and were often able to sort out even some of the more difficult problems.

Before I left his office he would always asked how my parents were, having known them from the 1950s Barry was born in Southowram and had a number of interests which included the history of the village.

Knowing my interest we became good friends and we would often chat about the old days. If I needed to answer a local history question about the village Barry was the man to ask.

I went to see him a couple of years ago to get his permission to use his name in the book I was writing about my police service. ‘Of course you can’, he said without hesitation and questioned it no further. He knew I would not say anything to embarrass him.

The second photograph shows Barry shortly before he retired.

Barry was still smiling when I last saw him, although he was not well. Whilst his passing is a sad loss to his family and close friends. He is someone who spent almost all his working life in Brighouse and was always working to do his best for both his tenants and the wider community. RIP Barry