The Company was established in 1875 by Frederick Edward Towner, the local cabinet maker in the fledgling community of St Leonards-on-Sea, Britain’s first New Town. We don’t know but have always liked to think that he branched into undertaking because he was the only one locally who, through his cabinet-making skills, could construct a coffin.F. E. Towner died in 1900 and the business was continued by his son, Arthur Charles Towner. The firm was made a Limited Company in the 1930's which is why it bears Arthur’s name and not his father’s. Arthur died in 1935. The business continued through his son, Arthur C. Towner II.Arthur C. Towner II handed over managerial control to his youngest son Raymond in the late 1960's (his eldest son Arthur C. Towner III died in 1965). Ray Towner retired in 1987 when his son Edward became Managing Director. Edward runs the company with his fellow director, Colin Miller. Edward and Colin went to school together at Hastings Grammar School.The company was originally located at 25 Norman Road, St Leonards-on-Sea. During the Second World War the premises were destroyed when a bomb landed in Norman Road. We re-located to 2 - 4 Norman Road which is where you will find us today. In the 1940s, 50s and 60s we had many strings to our bow: a furniture shop, upholsterers, furniture removals and storage, builders, decorators and plumbers as well as funeral directors and monumental masons. In the last quarter of the 20th Century some of the departments struggled as competition increased (for instance, the furniture shop couldn’t compete with the likes of MFI and Ikea) so we decided to concentrate on what we are good at - funerals and stonemasonry.The funeral industry has been ravaged by aggressive takeovers of small, family run businesses by big national and international funeral conglomerates like Service Corporation International and the Co-op. When the Co-op bought out the family firm of Jempsons in Battle we saw an opportunity: by opening a branch there we could ensure the people of Battle continued to have the option of a local, family owned undertaker. Our Battle office and chapel of rest - in Market Square - was opened in 1995. When the same thing happened in Bexhill - the Co-op bought out the family firm of Mummery - we saw a similar opportunity and so our Bexhill office and chapel of rest - in Station Road - was opened in 1999. Since then both branches have attracted more and more business which endorses our belief that, when dealing with an undertaker, most people want to be able to telephone John Smith Ltd and speak to Mr Smith himself, rather than be diverted to a call centre. Having outgrown the Station Road premises, in 2013 we moved to our new funeral home, Audley House, in Albert Road, Bexhill. With the acquisition by LM Funerals Ltd of family firms D. C. Mercer & Son and Banfield & Pomphrey in June 2010 we are now the only remaining local, independent, family owned funeral directors in the whole of Hastings, St Leonards, Bexhill and Battle.In 2016 we moved from 19 Market Square, Battle to 43 High Street, Battle, having spent a year repairing and refurbishing the property which is a lovely Grade II listed Georgian building.
Arthur C Towner Ltd: Our company history
In 1990 we joined forces with a local software company, Roger Ash and Associates, to develop the first funeral management software in the UK. We formed a new company called Ash Towner Ltd to create Osiris Funeral Management Software (Osiris FMS). Funeral Directors across the UK now rely on Osiris Systems software to keep their administration under control. We have since released our stake in Ash Towner Ltd but we continue to work with them in a consultancy capacity to improve and develop Osiris.For over 140 years we have been proud to provide a caring, professional service to bereaved people in our local area. We like to think that, in the 21st Century, our standards are higher than they have ever been but we are also constantly looking for ways to improve and widen the choice available to our clients. From traditional, horse-drawn funerals to environmentally-friendly ‘green’ funerals, we work with each family to provide just the right type of service so that, when they look back on the day of their loved one’s funeral, it is with a sense of comfort and pride.
Staff of Arthur C. Towner Ltd, circa 1910
Advertisement from 1885 edition of Pike'sDirectory of Hastings & St Leonards.