THU 28TH MAY 2020


Bringing the family business community together

The Oldest Family Businesses In Britain

23rd September 2013 Paul Andrews

Family Business United looked dug deep to uncover some of the oldest family business gems in Britain.  Who are the oldest 10 family firms in Britain?

Latest research identifies ten family businesses that have collectively been in business for over 4020 years

There is often a lack of recognition and respect for the successful contribution that family businesses have made to the UK economy over the years.  Family Business United has undertaken extensive research to identify some of the true bastions of family business success and is proud to identify some of the oldest businesses that have successfully passed down the generations.

It is pleasing to note that the oldest family business identified dates back to 1420 and spans the reigns of twenty-seven English monarchs.    In fact, the ten oldest family businesses have been in business collectively for 4027 years so on average over 400 years each which is an incredible achievement.

The contribution that these firms have made over the years in terms of revenue generation, employment, contributions to GDP and tax revenues, not to mention their support of the communities in which they operate should not go unnoticed.  


  1. Whitechapel Bell Foundry, Founded in 1420

  2. R J Balson and Son, Founded in 1535

  3. John Brooke and Sons Holdings Ltd, Founded in 1541

  4. R Durtnell & Sons Limited, Founded in 1591

  5. Tissimans, Founded in 1601

  6. C Hoare & Co, Founded in 1672

  7. Morning Foods, Founded in 1675

  8. James Lock & Co Ltd, Founded in1676

  9. Toye & Co, Founded in 1685

  10. Folkes Group Plc, Founded in 1697

In the current climate especially, things are tough, but the one thing that the oldest family businesses in Britain have in common is that they have been around long enough that they have seen it all before and have adapted and changed over time and remained in business as it passes from generation to generation.

As Paul Andrews, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Family Business United explains, “Taking responsibility for a firm that has been in the family for so many generations is not an easy role to take on, and given the current economic climate, has added pressures to bear too.  Many family business leaders in the position of those leading these oldest family businesses in the UK admit to feeling a burden of responsibility and not wanting to be the generation that fails to pass it on to the next, whilst they readily admit that they feel a certain duty to act as stewards of the family business for the next generation too.”

“All too often we hear stories of families that have fallen out and family businesses that have been sold, so to achieve an average of over 400 years as a family business is a significant achievement.  Each one of them will have stories to tell about their past but one thing that they all have in common is that they are a family business, have survived many more transitions than most and have naturally had to evolve and develop to take into account the significant industrial and economic developments that they have been a part of, in order to still be in business today.”

“These organisations are true bastions of the British economy and should be recognised for the contribution that they have made collectively over more than 4000 years.”


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