The family business with 175 years' experience helping families cope with death

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 21 Nov 2018

Handling bereavement is one of the hardest things anyone can face, both in personal life and in business.

But handling the subject of death is exactly what one of Hull’s oldest family businesses has been doing for 175 years.

W.P. Everingham & Sons, based in Hedon, is a fifth-generation family business which provides both hand carved and sandblasted grave and memorial stones.

Since namesake William Penrose Everingham led the business way back in the 19th century, the company has been working with bereaved families to provide the perfect tribute to their loved ones.

One hundred and seventy five years later, William’s great grandson, Neal Everingham, heads up the business.

Mr Everingham said one of the most rewarding things was having the ability to “turn a depressing patch of earth in a churchyard into a lovely place to visit.”

Speaking about the foundation of W.P. Everingham & Sons, he said: “The business has never moved, it’s always been in Souttergate in Hedon.

“The first person was my great, great grandfather, and after that was my great grandfather William, which is where the business got its name.

“The building used to be a stable before we moved in, which was really handy as back then all the tools we used were made by hand on a forge which was already in one corner of the room.

“When my great grandfather passed away, his wife ran the business for a few years until my grandfather and his brothers took over.

“My grandfather died in 1979, and by that time the business dealt with almost entirely gravestones and memorial stones.”

WP Everingham & Sons has been running for 175 years, and is a fifth-generation family business. (Jerome Ellerby, Hull Live)

Neal Everingham is the fifth-generation of the family to head up the business, and has since 2015 won national awards for his hand carving skills.

He said when the business first started out, the world was “a much smaller place,” and gravestones would be carved from local stone.

Today however, granite has come to the fore in the industry, and materials can be sourced from almost anywhere in the world.

“People like granite because it's easier to maintain, and can withstand any weather conditions,” Mr Everingham said.

“What is encouraging is, despite all the new technologies and sand blasting we can do, the number of people who ask for hand carved jobs has increased over the last two or three years.

“People can see the craft and the work that goes into it, and you can get some lovely shadowing and lighting effects that you cannot get from sand blasting.”

The business hand carves grave and memorial stones. (Jerome Ellerby, Hull Live)

W.P. Everingham can create memorial stones which are poignantly tailored and personalised.

Mr Everingham said they had incorporated themes of all varieties into stones, to reflect the deceased’s interests and hobbies.

“Pets are very popular, and we do a lot of things like motorbikes which may have been restored and lovingly cared for by the deceased,” he said.

“Farming is very popular around here too. We do a lot of memorial stones with tractors and ploughs and similar.

“Recently we had quite an amusing one, where the person had asked for a blackbird to be on the stone. When we came back with the design of the blackbird, they said ‘oh no, that won’t do at all, it was much scruffier looking than that.’

“We ended up with a blackbird that had some attitude. It is all about what the person wants.”

WP Everingham & Sons has been running for 175 years, and is a fifth-generation family business. (Jerome Ellerby, Hull Live)

Mr Everingham said while cemeteries were the main destination for its memorial stones, many people asked for them to be placed in a garden, or be incorporated into a piece of outdoor furniture.

He said: “I think one of the hardest things is everyone handles bereavement differently.

“Some people may never have experienced loss before. It is important to learn about the person, and how to best help them.

“We can turn a depressing patch of earth in a churchyard into a lovely place to visit."

Looking ahead, Mr Everingham said he hoped the business would remain in the family.

“I have two young daughters, 10 and 13, but already the youngest one during holidays is coming in and picking up and hammer and chisel and doing some work,” he said.

“There is a chance the business could get to 200 years with me still running it – who knows – but if not the signs are all good that it will stay in the family."

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