THESE photographs from the Adver archive are marked simply: “Barbara Simpson, lady butcher.”

They first appeared in the newspaper almost exactly 42 years ago, under the headline: “Mum with a joint role.”

Newspapers in the 1970s often ran features about women making headway in traditionally male professions. Many seem quaint today because the professions in question are either no longer male-dominated or far less so.

Barbara Simpson’s story is different, as it would still be unusual if told today.

As recently as 2013, a national broadsheet said there were only a handful of female butchers in the country, and that the exact figure might be as low as three.

The Adver story in June of 1976 began: “Housewives who call at one Old Town, Swindon, butcher’s shop often come out with a recipe or an economy tip as well as the meat.

“For this butcher isn’t a beefy fellow in a boater and a striped apron. She’s a 32-year-old blonde who knows all about the buying and spending problems of the average working mum.

“Barbara Simpson, mother of two and a former nursing auxiliary, chuckles when customers suggest she isn’t the type one usually expects to find wielding a meat cleaver.

“Barbara agrees.”

Her journey into the world of steaks, chops, sausages and offal had begun the previous summer when she and her husband, who was in the RAF, returned from a posting in Cyprus and set up home in Wroughton.

Reluctant to return to her old job at the RAF hospital there, Barbara found work as an insurance rep. As older readers will remember, in those days insurance companies employed people to visit customers at home, collecting premiums and adjusting policies.

Barbara hated the work and decided she’d prefer to run her own business.

We said: “A boutique or a launderette seemed the obvious answer, but her bank manager persuaded her against it.

“Then, on her insurance round one day, she saw a butcher’s shop standing empty and decided a housewife’s view of rising prices and the need for economy dishes might be the best asset a butcher could have.”

Initial training, we said, was provided by a qualified butcher before Barbara struck out on her own.

As there are no further mentions of her in our files, we wonder whether anybody - perhaps Barbara herself - can tell us more.