Austin’s has a long, proud heritage and is one of the oldest family-run Funeral Directors and Funeral Homes in the UK.
W. Austin and Sons Limited was originally established in 1700 in Graveley, a small village between Stevenage and Hitchin, in Hertfordshire. The firm then traded as Builders and Undertakers. It was traditional and common place as builders, of course, possessed all the necessary skills and manpower. Carpenters for making coffins, labourers for grave digging, generally suitable premises and a workforce who could double as pallbearers.
In about 1800 the Company moved to premises in Letchmore Road, Old Stevenage. Here family members resided adjacent to the builders yard and funerals were arranged and carried out from here. The Austin Family continued to be prolific builders in the area for the following 150 years or more. Many of the residential streets in Old Stevenage where constructed by the family.
In the 1950’s and early 1960’s the business was owned and run by William ‘Bill’ Austin and his two cousins Reg and Hubby. 1964 saw Reg and Hubby fast approaching retirement and the untimely death of Bill, my Grandfather, in the October. This, of course, meant there would be great changes ahead in the business.
Consequently, in January 1965, John (my Father), who until then had been following his own career, took on the role of running the family firm. It was soon evident to him that the way for this business to survive and prosper was to acquire ownership of the business from his father’s cousins. It was from this point that John Austin embarked on his journey to develop and build this long established and well respected family firm. His aim to provide a very personal and quality service to the local community.
The building and funeral directing businesses continued to operate in tandem from the original premises in Letchmore Road. Austin’s built many individual homes in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. However, in 1978, John decided that there was a greater future in the funeral business and so the building side of the company was sold. Although the builders yard area of the premises in Letchmore Road was disposed of, the remainder was retained for the operation of Austin’s Funeral Service. Indeed, today, although the buildings have been modernised and extended it continues to be the Head Office and operation centre for Austin’s Funeral Service.
Stevenage having been developed as the first New Town in 1947 it was, to some extent, inevitable that the funeral business would continue to grow.
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