A giant in the world of G&S
Peter Parker was one of our Vice Presidents, a committee member and was very active in our society. He was also a committee member and Vice President of the London Gilbert & Sullivan Society.
He was one of the leading authorities on the D'Oyly Carte Family and the works of G&S, and had an extensive collection of G&S memorabilia, some personal to his own family and some relating to the D'Oyly Cartes.
In May 1909, straight from school, Peter's father Stanley was employed by the Savoy Hotel as a junior clerk (or office boy) in the Billing Office. From that job, on the death of Helen D'Oyly Carte in 1913, he was picked by Rupert to understudy Mr George A Richardson who managed the theatre from November 1911 to February 1915.
In 1913 Stanley Parker became Rupert and (later) Bridget D'Oyly Carte's private secretary, also secretary of both the Savoy Theatre Ltd. and of the Opera Company.
Several of these posts were held concurrently and (like Pooh-Bah in the Mikado) as a consequence of conflicts between his different roles, Peter relates that sometimes, his father acting in one role had to write to himself in one of his other roles.
Peter's association with the D'Oyly Carte family commenced in childhood, one weekend his father took him to Richard D'Oyly Carte's office, while they were there Richard D'Oyly Carte turned up and on seeing them there he simply commented to his father to carry on showing Peter around, such was the trust and respect the two men had for each other.
Peter followed in Stanley's footseps by attending Ardingly College, and went on to study engineering. An early interest in stage lighting led to a career in electrical engineering with GEC, and later his own electrical shop in Dartford. A career highlight was working on the outdoor and underwater lighting team at the Festival of Britain in 1951, then a year later being involved in the lighting and decorations for the Queen's Coronation.
In retirement Peter dabbled with making DVD videos of G&S events and interviews with the artists involved, and curating his (partly inherited) sizeable collection of books, photographs and other ephemera relating to G&S and the Savoy. He was regarded by many as an expert on matters to do with the D'Oyly Cartes and in that capacity he provided data and background information for films including Topsy-Turvy.
The photograph above shows the staff of the Savoy Hotel in 1910, Stanley Parker is in middle row, second from the right. In the front row, 3rd from the right, is G.A.Richardson who was Rupert D'Oyly Carte's secretary, from whom Stanley Parker took over in 1913. Stanley Parker died in 1960 still in harness having worked continuously for the Cartes for 51 years.