13. Woodthorpe’s Butchers

As more residents made their homes in North Perth in the early 1900s, a range of local businesses were also needed to provide their everyday needs. The first business listed in Angove street in Wise’s Post Office Directories was a general store owned by Miss Elizabeth Watson and located at 39 Angove St (Site 9). Reta Jacobsen, who moved into Angove Street in 1904, aged seven, recalled the street as a gravel road.

“There was a grocer’s shop on the corner of Angove Street and Daphne Street and it did not matter what you bought, he always said, “anything else besides?” My brothers when they were going to school, they used to say, “Mother, do you want anything from Anything Else Besides?”

While only 12 percent of the North Perth area had been built on in 1904, by 1911 this had trebled.[1] Within the next five years the street included a butcher, general store, greengrocer, confectioner and a boot maker.

Woodthorpe's Butchers c 1920
Woodthorpe’s Butchers c 1920

Woodthorpe butchers shop was on the corner of Fitzgerald Street at 2 Angove Street from around 1917 to the mid-1950s. Bill Woodthorpe, grandson of the founder whose father also worked in the business, remembers:

“Out the back door were the toilets and then I can remember about three sheds that went right to the laneway. The first one had a big copper for rendering the fat. They used to boil up the fat and you’d get the crackling for fishing – to get the slick. Also Jack had another little room like a small toilet which was a smokehouse. He used to like to experiment on that. They used different types of sawdust to get the different flavours. Then behind that were the original horse sheds for the horses and the carts, which were then later for the vehicles.”

Professor Geoffery Bolton who lived in North Perth as a child recalled:

“ Woodthorpe’s the butchers, well they had two shops: one on the corner of Angove Street and one of the corner of Raglan Road. When we got back in 1966 we found that Jack Woodthorpe of the first generation was still running the shop down at Raglan Road. He had a most interesting clientele because it was one third old North Perth people like my parents. It was one third couples like ourselves who had moved out of North Perth but came back because he was such a good butcher and one third was the Italian families that had moved in. Jack had taught himself some basic Italian and he had taught himself the veal cuts and he was doing quite well but really his heart was in his budgerigars. So eventually he sold out and devoted himself to his hobby … that was the end of the Woodthorpe dynasty as far as butchering went.”

Woodthorpe's, 1940s
Woodthorpe’s, 1940s

Following a boom in population after World War I, more businesses appeared on Angove Street.  By 1925 a hairdresser and tobacconist, electrician, watchmaker, dressmaker, newsagent and stationer, and ironmonger and several music teachers were located there. North Perth Open Markets were established by F Prentice and operated at No. 31 from 1924 to 1936. At 15 Angove Street there was Pell’s corner shop which served a newsagent, tobacconist, stationer and lending library. The store operated until 1947.

 Pell's Corner on the corner of Angove and Woodville streets, North Perth

Pell’s Corner on the corner of Woodville St, 1920s

In the late 1920s Arthur Purslowe moved into 20 Angove Street and set up as an undertaker. He was one of three Purslowe sons who continued the undertaking business their father James had started in Northam WA in 1907.  Together with his brothers, Walter Goodlet lived next door as a young boy, and he recalled:

“Peering over the back fence and seeing the shiny coffins, which were made on the premises, piled up. Arthur Purslowe was often busy and short-handed. He tendered to the City of Perth for the deceased requiring burial. They were often ‘paupers’ and he transported them to his parlour in a closed utility. When he needed help he would often knock on the Goodlet front door.”

Arthur J. Purslowe premises, c1932
Arthur J. Purslowe premises, c1932

The Purslowe funeral tradition is still present in North Perth, with the family run company joining another Western Australian funeral company in 2017 to form Purslowe & Chipper funerals, with a location at 15 Scarborough Beach Road North Perth.

Assets and References

Images Courtesy City of Vincent Local History Centre

  • PH03112 – Woodthorpe’s Butcher shop on the corner of Angove and Fitzgerald streets, North Perth c.1920
  • PH02296 – Pell’s Corner on the corner of Angove and Woodville streets, North Perth
  • PH03113 – Woodthorpe’s Butchers 1940

Image Courtesy State Library of Western Australia

  • 101725PD –  Arthur J. Purslowe Premises, c 1932.  Sourced from the collections of the State Library of Western Australia and reproduced with the permission of the Library Board of Western Australia. This image has been preserved and made available by the Historical Records Rescue Consortium (HRRC) Project supported by Lotterywest

City Of Vincent Local History Centre – OH0150 Geoffrey Bolton interview

Purslowe Chipper Funerals Website

Russell, S.  Memoirs of Walter Leslie Goodlet

Stannage, CT, The People of Perth (Perth, 1979)

State Library of Western Australia Transcript of an interview with Mrs Reta Jacobsen

1920 Post Office Directory

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