2023 marks local funeral service's 100th anniversary

By Jessica Durston - 22 May 2023


Hillier Funeral Services’ first funeral dates back to 1923, with the business remaining family-run ever since, now in its fourth generation.

Mark, Rebecca and Michael

The company was originally set up by Harold Hillier.

After a short time spent working at Great Western Railway, he established a building company at The Broadway, Rodbourne Cheney. The depression days arrived, and contracts dried up. He turned his hand to funerals and ran both business for a time.

Due to the growing town an office was set up in a house in Victoria Road. The workshops, garage and chapel of rest stayed at the Broadway. Coffins were prepared by hand from butts of oak and elm that were delivered to the workshop. The first motor hearse was bought in 1933 before this, funerals were conducted with a hand bier.

Harold’s son Michael joined the business in 1944, and took control when Harold retired in 1952. Michael (now 96) still takes a keen interest in the business and conducts the occasional funeral.

Michael’s son Mark joined the business in 1980, building on the family tradition of providing a professional caring service. He moved the main office from 55 Victoria Road to 170 Victoria Road in 1993. He also established Hilliers’ unique Bereavement Care service and extended and modernised the chapels at The Broadway.

In 2014, Mark’s daughter Rebecca joined the business. Looking at the ever-changing funeral industry, she has adapted the business’ ways of working to best suit the needs of clients, and constantly looks to improve their services.

She said: “One thing that has remained constant throughout the 100 years, is the service we provide to families which has made us a firmly established and integral part of the community. In the last five years we have opened our Highworth branch, moved our head office to Kingshill House, as well as making improvements to our website, internal systems, products and the services we offer.”

To celebrate their centenary, the team decided to set up ‘The Hillier Community Fund’ which aims to support local charities. As a business Hillier’s will put £1,000 into the fund for every year they have been running, and year on year, will continue to add to the fund.

They made the first donations from the fund at their centenary dinner in May.

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