Our History | Austin's Funeral Directors (2024)

Austin's Funeral Directors

Whenever you need us we are there 24 hours a day 7 days a week


01763 274111


01582 762570

Harwood Park

01438 812515


01992 582052


01462 438422


01992 471709


01438 812365


01438 316623

Stotfold Chapel

01438 794420


01920 468551


01438 714686


01707 390018

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    About Austin's

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    • Buntingford
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Our History

Austin’s has a long, proud heritage and is one of the oldest family-run Funeral Directors and Funeral Homes in the UK.

W. Austin and Sons Limited was originally established in 1700 in Graveley, a small village between Stevenage and Hitchin, in Hertfordshire. The firm then traded as Builders and Undertakers. It was traditional and common place as builders, of course, possessed all the necessary skills and manpower. Carpenters for making coffins, labourers for grave digging, generally suitable premises and a workforce who could double as pallbearers.

In about 1800 the Company moved to premises in Letchmore Road, Old Stevenage. Here family members resided adjacent to the builders yard and funerals were arranged and carried out from here. The Austin Family continued to be prolific builders in the area for the following 150 years or more. Many of the residential streets in Old Stevenage where constructed by the family.

In the 1950’s and early 1960’s the business was owned and run by William ‘Bill’ Austin and his two cousins Reg and Hubby. 1964 saw Reg and Hubby fast approaching retirement and the untimely death of Bill, my Grandfather, in the October. This, of course, meant there would be great changes ahead in the business.

Consequently, in January 1965, John (my Father), who until then had been following his own career, took on the role of running the family firm. It was soon evident to him that the way for this business to survive and prosper was to acquire ownership of the business from his father’s cousins. It was from this point that John Austin embarked on his journey to develop and build this long established and well respected family firm. His aim to provide a very personal and quality service to the local community.

The building and funeral directing businesses continued to operate in tandem from the original premises in Letchmore Road. Austin’s built many individual homes in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. However, in 1978, John decided that there was a greater future in the funeral business and so the building side of the company was sold. Although the builders yard area of the premises in Letchmore Road was disposed of, the remainder was retained for the operation of Austin’s Funeral Service. Indeed, today, although the buildings have been modernised and extended it continues to be the Head Office and operation centre for Austin’s Funeral Service.

Stevenage having been developed as the first New Town in 1947 it was, to some extent, inevitable that the funeral business would continue to grow.


New funeral arrangement office opens

New Funeral Arrangement Office opens in The Forum, Stevenage Town Centre.

May 1982

New funeral arrangement office opens

Funeral Arrangement Office opens at The Grange on The Bowling Green, Old Stevenage.


Funeral plan is introduced

Austin’s Select Pre-payment Funeral Plan is introduced.


The Forum office closes

The Forum office closes with staff relocated to Letchmore Road.


John’s son joins the team

David Austin, John’s son joined Austin’s.


Austin’s acquires Geo. W. Blow

The Company acquires another long established family firm in Welwyn, Geo W. Blow


The Grange Arrangement Office closes.

The Grange Arrangement Office closes. Letchmore Road is extended to accommodate relocated staff.

September 1994

Hitchin office opens

Austin’s of Hitchin opens in Bancroft, Hitchin.

February 1997

Harwood Park Crematorium opens

Harwood Park Crematorium, designed and built by the Austin Family, opens in Watton Road, Stevenage.

November 1997

Austin’s acquires Alfred Scales

Austin’s acquires Alfred Scales Funeral Directors in Hertford and Buntingford and Francis Mander Stonemasons.

April 1998

Claire Austin joins the team

Claire Austin (10th Generation) joins Harwood Park as Assistant Manager.

April 1999

Hertfordshire Funeral Plan

The Select Funeral Plan becomes The Hertfordshire Funeral Plan.

Year 2000

300 years of service

Austin’s celebrates 300 years of service to the community.

January 2001

John Austin retires

John Austin retires. Claire Austin takes on the role of Managing Director.

February 2001

Geo. W. Blow is renamed to Austin’s

The trading name of Geo. W. Blow is changed to Austin’s to reflect its ownership. This coincides with the relocation of the Arrangement Office to 16, High Street, Welwyn.

April 2001

Peter Hope becomes manager

Peter Hope (Claire’s husband) becomes Manager and Registrar of Harwood Park Crematorium.

April 2001

Alfred Scales is renamed to Austin's

The trading name of Alfred Scales in Hertford and Buntingford is changed to Austin’s to reflect its ownership.

June 2001

Francis Mander Memorials relocates

Francis Mander Memorials relocates to Church Street, Welwyn.

June 2003

Austin’s of WGC opens

Austin’s of Welwyn Garden City opens in Wigmores North, Welwyn Garden City.

April 2004

Francis Mander is renamed to Austin's

The trading name of Francis Mander Memorials is changed to Austin’s Memorials to reflect its ownership.

September 2004

Stevenage arrangement office relocated

The Arrangement office for Austin’s of Stevenage is relocated from Letchmore Road to 21, High Street.

March 2006

Austin’s Knebworth office opens

Austin’s opens in London Road, Knebworth.

April 2007

Hertford relocates its arrangement office

Austin’s of Hertford relocates its arrangement office from Church Street to 12 Millbridge, Hertford.

April 2009

Austin’s Ware office opens

Austin’s of Ware opens at 32, High Street, Ware.

October 2011

Major extension to Harwood Park Crematorium

Major extension to Harwood Park Crematorium and Memorial Garden to provide additional meeting room for bereaved families, extra office space and a Coffee Lounge for families and mourners attending funeral services and the gardens.

2011 and 2012

Austin’s win thirteen awards

Austin’s win thirteen regional and national business awards

September 2012

Austin’s take over the lease of Stotfold Cemetery Chapel

Austin’s take over the lease of Stotfold Cemetery Chapel and carries out complete refurbishment in order that it can, once again, be used by the local community

March 2013

New website launched

Austin’s new website launched

August 2013

Austin’s of Hitchin relocates

Austin’s of Hitchin relocates from Bancroft to larger premises in Hermitage Road

May 2016

Austin’s of Letchworth opens

Austin’s of Letchworth opens in Leys Avenue

April 2021

Austin’s of Hoddesdon opens

Austin’s of Hoddesdon opens in at 77 High Street, Hoddesdon

April 2022

Austin’s of Harpenden opens

Austin’s of Harpenden opens in at 53/55 High Street, Harpenden

Whenever you need us we are there

If a loved one has passed, please call your nearest funeral office for help, support & advice, 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

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About Austin's Funeral directors

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