Austin's Funeral Directors Over 300 years of quality customer service

Over 300 years of quality customer service...

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.

n 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.


New Funeral Arrangement Office opens in The Forum, Stevenage Town Centre.

May 1982

Funeral Arrangement Office opens at The Grange on The Bowling Green, Old Stevenage.


The Forum office closes with staff relocated to Letchmore Road.


Austin’s Select Pre-payment Funeral Plan is introduced.


David Austin, John’s son joined Austin’s.


The Company acquires another long established family firm in Welwyn, Geo W. Blow.


The Grange Arrangement Office closes. Letchmore Road is extended to accommodate relocated staff.

September 1994

Austin’s of Hitchin opens in Bancroft, Hitchin.

February 1997

Harwood Park Crematorium, designed and built by the Austin Family, opens in Watton Road, Stevenage.

November 1997

Austin’s acquires Alfred Scales Funeral Directors in Hertford and Buntingford and Francis Mander Stonemasons.

April 1998

Claire Austin (10th Generation) joins Harwood Park as Assistant Manager.

April 1999

The Select Funeral Plan becomes The Hertfordshire Funeral Plan.

Year 2000

Austin’s celebrates 300 years of service to the community.

January 2001

John Austin retires. Claire Austin takes on the role of Managing Director.

February 2001

The trading name of Geo. W. Blow is changed to Austin’s to reflect its ownership. This coincides with the relocation of the Arrangement Office to 16, High Street, Welwyn.

April 2001

Peter Hope (Claire’s husband) becomes Manager and Registrar of Harwood Park Crematorium.

April 2001

The trading name of Alfred Scales in Hertford and Buntingford is changed to Austin’s to reflect its ownership.

June 2001

Francis Mander Memorials relocates to Church Street, Welwyn.

June 2003

Austin’s of Welwyn Garden City opens in Wigmores North, Welwyn Garden City.

April 2004

The trading name of Francis Mander Memorials is changed to Austin’s Memorials to reflect its ownership.

September 2004

The Arrangement office for Austin’s of Stevenage is relocated from Letchmore Road to 21, High Street.

March 2006

Austin’s opens in London Road, Knebworth.

April 2007

Austin’s of Hertford relocates its arrangement office from Church Street to 12 Millbridge, Hertford.

April 2009

Austin’s of Ware opens at 32, High Street, Ware.