By Ian C. Smith.
J. Fox & Sons, Funeral Directors of Doncaster
The firm J. Fox and Son was founded by John Fox and his son William Henry Fox in 1914, with the premises at 77 Cleveland Street. However, owing to the increase in business it was necessary to move to larger premises at 70-71 Spring Gardens. During the inter-war years J. Fox & Son became the leading funeral directors in the town and were extremely proud of the fact that they were the first Doncaster Funeral Directors to own their own motor hearse.
John Fox was a native of Great Ellingham, Norfolk, and came to Doncaster in 1870 to work for Messrs. Stenton and Waring, builders and joiners, but went on to work as a journeyman with Messrs. Sheard Binnington & Co. He left Sheard Binnington & Co. in 1914 after 36 years of service to enter into partnership with his son, in J. Fox & Son, Funeral Directors. He died on the 10th July 1932, aged 84 years and at the time of his death would have been one of the oldest tradesmen in Doncaster still taking an active interest in the business. He is buried in Doncaster Hyde Park Cemetery.
William Henry Fox in his younger days, was a well known Doncaster amateur athlete and in addition to being a member of Sheffield United Harriers (winning about £300 worth of prizes), he was honorary member of the L.N.E.R Harriers. He later became a member of the Hyde Park and Doncaster Conservative Clubs. Before entering into partnership with his father, he worked for Mr. Thomas Froggatt whose undertaking business was in St. Sepulchre Gate, for 26 years. On Monday the 1st September, 1919, William attended at Sheffield, the London College of Embalming’s first Post-War class, christened the ‘Victory Class’, as many of the students had recently served in His Majesty’s Forces during the Great War.
William Henry Fox died on the 10th November, 1947, aged 71 years and is also buried in Doncaster Hyde Park cemetery.
Charles Percy Fox was the younger son of John Fox and brother to William and joined the family business after the Great War (1914-1918). He soon became a respected member of the business community in the town.
During the Great War, Charles Percy Fox (Sgt. C. P. Fox, A.S.C (later to become R.A.S.C)) was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field by His Majesty King George 5th in July, 1918, and was later awarded a Bar to his Military Medal. Charles Percy Fox died on the 1st December, 1963, aged 71 years, and like his father and brother is buried in Doncaster Hyde Park Cemetery.
The Doncaster Chronicle of the 13th December, 1934, states that William and Percy Fox were certified by the London College of Embalmers, members of the British Embalmers Society, and also members of the British Institute of Embalmers.
In March 1946, the firm J. Fox & Sons merged with The Doncaster Co-operative Society Funeral Department.
The Doncaster Co-operative Funeral Service
The Doncaster Co-operative Society Limited opened their first Funeral Department in March 1936 with premises in Cleveland Street, Doncaster. Their first funeral arrangement was that of an infant at the cost of 14s 9d with the burial taking place in Arksey Cemetery. In March 1946, The Doncaster Co-operative Society Limited acquired the well-established business of J. Fox & Sons, at the time, Doncaster’s leading Funeral Directors, along with their premises at 70-71 Spring Gardens, not far from Spring Gardens Methodist Chapel. The Co-operative Funeral Service carried on operating from J. Fox & Sons’ former offices until they moved further along Spring Gardens to 89-90 in April 1956
The photograph below is that of Mr. Roy Hather (the driver), owner of the Rolls Royce motor hearse shown, which was used before World War 2 by the Doncaster Co-operative Funeral Service.
Doncaster Co-operative Funeral Service is still in existence today albeit under the different name of Co-operative Funeralcare (I should know as I work there), and is still based in the same premises at 89-90 Spring Gardens.