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. With the oldest family business dating back to 1631, there are some great examples of family firms across the county that have stood the test of time.
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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:

RankYear FoundedName Of BusinessNature Of BusinessLocation
11631M Lucking & SonsFuneral DirectorsChelmsford
21740T Pennack & SonsFuneral DirectorsChelmsford
31765Cants of ColchesterRose GrowersColchester
41769Richard Haward OystersCultivating OystersMersea
51818John J Smith Stonemasons & Funeral ServicesFuneral Directors & StonemasonsColchester
61820P.S. Shelley Master Thatcher LtdThatcherHockley
71824W & H Marriage & Sons LtdFlour MillersChelmsford
81826Gray & Sons (Chelmsford) LtdOwners of Public Houses & Beer WholesalersChelmsford
91830Fish Brothers GroupJewellers & PawnbrokersRomford
101838Kent BlaxillBuilders MerchantsColchester
11=1850Warsop StebbingManufacturers of Cricket BatsChelmsford
11=1850Collier & CatchpoleBuilders MerchantsColchester
131854Manns MusicRetailersColchester
141857P.G. Oxley LtdFuneral DirectorsWalton-on-the-Naze
151867S Stibbard & SonsFuneral DirectorsHadleigh
161869Sadlers TaxisTaxi FirmEpping Forest
171871CJ TownrowRetailersBraintree
181872Daniel Robinson & SonsFuneral DirectorsStansted
191875Nicholls & Clarke LimitedBuilders MerchantsBenfleet
201881T Cribb & SonsFuneral DirectorsBenfleet
211882Maldon SaltSalt ProducersMaldon
221884FR Shadbolt & Sons LtdDoor ManufacturersBraintree
231885Wilkin & SonsManufacturers of PreservesTiptree
241886HatfieldsFurniture RetailersColchester
251888Church’s ButchersButchersEpping Forest

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.”

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.”

Uncovering The Oldest Family Firms Across Essex 1

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 report (available from 1 November) please contact Matthew Rowe at matthew.rowe@rickardluckin.co.uk

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