Only a few generations ago, the practicalities of funerals were often carried out by an older person in your neighbourhood who had learned the skills of ‘laying out’; a carpenter would be asked to make a coffin and another tradesman would lend use of a horse and wagon to go to the local cemetery.
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), used to assist families 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.
So 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 Undertakers 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 was then converted into a modern funeral home, becoming our main offices.
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 is 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.
Whilst modern times demand modern ways, our service and commitment to you remain as traditional as when we began in the 1950’s.
Harold Wood Funeral Services has always been a company comprising family and friends, where trust is paramount – Mrs M M Coyte ⋅ MANAGING DIRECTOR