Alfred Parkin was born in Wrekenton. Educated at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle, he studied medicine at the Durham University College of Medicine, qualifying in 1901 with first class honours. After studying in Berlin and Vienna, he obtained the M.R.C.S. and L.R.C.P. in 1902, the F.R.C.S. Eng. and M.D. Durham in 1904 and the M.R.C.P. in 1908.
At the R.V.I., Newcastle, he served as a House Physician to Sir Thomas Oliver and House Surgeon to Professor Rutherford Morison. After a short period as Resident Medical Officer to the Newcastle Dispensary, Nelson Street, he returned to the R.V.I. as an Assistant Physician in 1908 before being elected in 1913 as a Consultant.
During the war, Dr Parkin was a Major in the R.A.M.C. and one of the officers in charge of the First Northern General Hospital, situated at Armstrong College, Newcastle. At the time of his death, he held the appointments of Honorary Physician to the R.V.I., Consulting Physician to the Gateshead Union Hospital and Lecturer in Therapeutics to the Durham University College of Medicine.
In his obituary, Sir Thomas Oliver writes, 'Dr Parkin had a refined and cultured mind; he remained a student in the best sense of the term. He was regarded by his colleagues as a sound and reliable Consultant and had, therefore, a large following. The thoroughness with which he examined his patients and the sympathetic regard he extended to them endeared him to all with whom he was professionally brought into contact.'