Seven generations of funeral directors

IT'S not very often that a business can trace their family history back over SEVEN generations.

For 175 years, Coleraine funeral director, Hugh Wade and Son have been serving our local community.

The business is set to continue for many more years, after the well known Coleraine firm welcomed Christopher Hugh Wade, grandson of Hugh, into the family business.

19-year-old Christopher has always taken an interest in the funeral profession, having grown up in the business. He is now the seventh generation of his family to become a funeral director.

The business started back in 1835, when William Wade, proprietor of The Royal Hotel in Garvagh, and also the proud owner of a fine stable of Belgian black horses, set up an undertaking business.

After his death in 1900, his son, called Hugh, carried on both businesses until his death in 1927.

He was succeeded by his son, also named Hugh, who in 1937 opened an undertaking business in the Waterside area of Coleraine. The late Hugh Wade -father of the current Managing Director, Hugh, began his business life there, at just 17 years of age.

The Wades remained at Waterside until 1950, when they bought premises at the other end of Coleraine, on Railway Road. It was there the firm built its very first funeral parlour or funeral home, as we know them today.

In May 1956, due to a fire, the business moved to its present address on Abbey Street.

Current Managing Director Hugh Wade, entered the business after leaving Coleraine Academical Institution in June 1962.

Over the years the firm continued to progress, and in 1967 they acquired the undertaking business of T.D. MacFarlane Limited, which was situated in Church Street, Coleraine.

Fast forward a few years, and the Coleraine firm began to lead the way. In 1992, Charlene Wade, Christopher's mother, joined the once male dominated profession. She was followed two years later, by her sister Alison.

It is not surprising that Christopher has taken an interest in the profession: "I've grown up with it," he told the Times this week.

"It was a bit daunting at the start, but everyone has been a great help to me.

"It's a privilege to work in a profession where you can offer help and care to people."

With Christopher as the 'next generation' it's clear that the Wade family will continue to serve the people of the area, with their caring, professional service, for many years to come.

STORY: Nichola Forgrave