In thinking about about our company history, we were very aware that only a few generations ago, the practicalities of funerals were often carried out by an elder in your neighbourhood who had learned those skills from another elder; a carpenter would then be asked to make a coffin, and another tradesman would lend use of a horse and wagon to go to the local cemetery. We respectfully carry on these traditions in a modern way, and the different services are now specialised within our company.
Thomas Coyte grew up in Hackney in the early years of the last century, and was familiar with these events. His mother, Florence Coyte (born Mossman), as a good neighbour used to assist families in their homes with practicalities when babies were born, and when someone died.
After his years in the army, Thomas began using all the trade skills he had learnt. A trusted and organised man, with skills essential to funeral undertaking at that time, he began accepting requests to carry out funerals; but soon realised that a separate company was required for this work.
Thomas’s wife, Margaret, was similarly inspired by her mother Ethel Stuart Morris. Ethel was a Hackney Hospital “ward orderly,” at the same time as looking after children and her war hero husband, then affected by illness in the 1950s. Nothing was too much trouble. Sensitively looking after practicalities of her patients’ end of life was second nature to her, and comforting their families.
In 1958 Thomas and his wife Margaret established a funeral parlour in Morning Lane, Hackney. But Hackney families were fast relocating – there were whole sections of the community moving to gain better housing further toward the countryside, often to Havering, Redbridge, Chigwell and Debden.
The old Morning Lane Funeral Parlour moved with the families it served – firstly to new premises in Station Road, Harold Wood. Thomas and his brother Frederick purchased a private house in 1967 which they converted. In the following year it opened to local appreciation and renamed for the area.
In 1972 the second branch of Harold Wood Funeral Services opened in Collier Row Lane. Previously occupied by a gentlemen’s hairdressers, it continues to provide a local service to Collier Row and the surrounding neighbourhoods and villages.
In 1984 the company purchased a hall from St George’s Church in Chippenham Road, Harold Hill, which Thomas “hands-on” converted into a modern funeral home, becoming our largest premises. It is next door to the current modern St George’s Church and at the top of the Hilldene Shopping Centre.
After Thomas’s death in 1999, Margaret took on the role of Managing Director, appointing son and daughter Peter Coyte and Carol Lawrence, as directors. The future of Harold Wood Funeral Services was cemented as an independent, family-run company, offering the personal attention that only a smaller, independent company can.
And in 2010 we proudly opened a new premises in New North Road, Hainault, and look forward to extending our respectful work to a community where we have deep roots, and much affection. We dedicated the Hainault office to our dear Tricia, our dear cousin, friend and fellow director who was so important to the company with her hard work and compassion for many years, until her death in 2003. Tricia lived in and loved Hainault where she lived since a little girl, across the road from the Forest, within sight of Chigwell Row.
Our ethos is still to continually update our facilities for the comfort of our clients, where everyone feels welcome.
Our reception rooms are now furnished “country-style.” Our visiting areas are spacious and light.
Our Mercedes fleet is soon to be joined by the next generation of custom made vehicles.
Our colleagues remain the most knowledgeable, sympathetic and understanding you can hope to meet, benefitting from good training and immediate access to directors.
We are still committed to carrying out the best of modern professional practice, and accommodating the wishes of all nationalities and faiths as they join our neighbourhoods. For those who wish to help with the washing and dressing of their loved ones we have provision for this in both our Harold Hill and Hainault premises.
Whilst modern times demand modern ways, our service and commitment to you remain as traditional as when we began in the 1950’s.