Editors Pick England News UK

Uncovering The Oldest Family Firms Across Essex

Family Business United continues to champion the family business sector and has published the findings from its inaugural research, sponsored by Rickard Luckin, to identify the oldest family firms in Essex.

Key Findings:

  •  Inaugural research identifies long standing family firms across Essex which date back as far as 1631
  • The oldest family business in Essex is M Lucking and Sons
  • The oldest 25 family firms in Essex have cumulatively traded for 4,620 years

With the oldest family business dating back to 1631 and a 391 year history to date, and the cumulative trading of the oldest 25 family firms being 4,620 years, there are some great examples of family firms across the county that have stood the test of time.

As Paul Andrews, founder of Family Business United explains; “These businesses have been around for many years and have certainly managed to beat the curse of ‘rags to rags in three generations’ that is often referred to. In fact, these family firms have managed to survive an industrial revolution, world wars, the creation of the internet and much more besides. What they clearly all have in common is the ability to remain relevant as a business over time, innovating and evolving throughout their journey in order to survive.”

“There is a real mix of businesses represented too, from funeral directors to butchers, millers to thatchers and retailers to builders’ merchants. All of these family firms have a real narrative, a story to tell and have been witness to many historical milestones along the way.”

“It is also interesting to note that the oldest comprise a number of funeral directors, clearly linking businesses to communities historically and where generations of family members have, and continue, to serve families in the areas where they are based.”

The Oldest Family Firms In Essex*

1 – M Lucking & Sons, Funeral Directors, Chelmsford (1631)
2 – T Pennack & Sons, Funeral Directors, Chelmsford (1740)
3 – Cants of Colchester, Rose Growers,  Colchester (1765)
4 – Richard Haward Oysters, Cultivating Oysters, Mersea (1769)
5 – John J Smith Stonemasons & Funeral Services,  Funeral Directors, Colchester (1818)
6 – P.S. Shelley Master Thatcher Ltd, Thatcher, Hockley (1820)
7 – W & H Marriage & Sons Ltd, Flour Millers, Chelmsford (1824)
8 – Gray & Sons (Chelmsford) Ltd, Public Houses & Beer Wholesalers, Chelmsford (1826)
9 – Fish Brothers Group, Jewellers & Pawnbrokers, Romford (1830)
10 – Kent Blaxill, Builders Merchants, Colchester (1838)
11 – Warsop Stebbing, Manufacturers of Cricket Bats, Chelmsford (1850)
11 – Collier & Catchpole, Builders Merchants, Colchester (1850)
13 – Manns Music, Retailers, Colchester (1854)
14 – P.G. Oxley Ltd, Funeral Directors, Walton-on-the-Naze (1857)
15 – S Stibbard & Sons, Funeral Directors, Hadleigh (1867)
16 – Sadlers Taxis, Taxi Firm, Epping Forest (1869)
17 – CJ Townrow, Retailers, Braintree (1871)
18 – Daniel Robinson & Sons, Funeral Directors, Stansted (1872)
19 – Nicholls & Clarke Limited, Builders Merchants, Benfleet (1875)
20 – T Cribb & Sons, Funeral Directors, Benfleet (1881)
21 – Maldon Salt, Salt Producers, Maldon (1882)
22 – FR Shadbolt & Sons Ltd, Door Manufacturers, Braintree (1884)
23 – Wilkin & Sons, Manufacturers of Preserves, Tiptree (1885)
24 – Hatfields, Furniture Retailers, Colchester (1886)
25 – Church’s Butchers, Butchers, Epping Forest (1888)

M Lucking and Sons, the funeral directors based in Chelmsford, are the oldest family business in Essex. As Darren Lucking comments, “We are so proud that the business is still running today as it was all the way back in 1631, including the fact that we are still joiners which was how the business started all those years ago.”

“One of the reasons we continue as a successful business is because of the old fashioned, quality customer service that is so often missing in a lot of companies today. Also, the care we genuinely show our families and the quality of the products that are made within our workshops and our stonemasonry business help us to do what we have done for generations,” concludes Darren.

Paul Shelley is a sixth generation Master Thatcher and is delighted to be one of the oldest family firms in Essex. He added that “being a sixth generation family business is massive and it means so much to me and my family. Continuing a tradition as we do is all the more special as it was something that was started by my ancestors over 200 years ago. I am delighted to be continuing the family tradition.”

James Boustead, Director at Rickard Luckin, sponsors of this inaugural report adds, “Through this research, we have uncovered family businesses, both large and small, which have been at the heart of the Essex economy for many generations. These family firms have been central to our local communities and their history and heritage should be celebrated. To be able to include a firm that started during the reign of Charles I is particularly poignant at this moment in the country’s history.”

“Collectively they represent great ambassadors for the family business sector and it has been a fantastic project to uncover these businesses, find out about the journey they have been on and to celebrate the family business model as one of longevity and ongoing contribution to the communities in which they operate so many years since they were founded,” continues James.

Paul Andrews, concluded: “In order to stand the test of time, any business needs to ensure that it moves with the times, innovates where possible and continues to evolve to ensure it remains relevant too. Good governance, communication and shared vision and values help but undoubtedly, the long term view taken by many family members who act as custodians of their business for future generations, helps them plan to continue their businesses from generation to generation.”

For a copy of the full report (available from 1 November) please contact Matthew Rowe at Rickard Luckin directly via email on matthew.rowe@rickardluckin.co.uk

*We have conducted extensive research in order to compile this report.  However, as there is no legal requirement to disclose a business as a family business at Companies House, it is possible that we may have missed a long standing family firm.  If that is the case, please do contact us and we will update the research accordingly.

Related posts