They kept their handsome horses upstairs and their carriages downstairs.
Of course, I’ve always known Turnbull’s Funeral Furnishers in Albion Road, North Shields, a very well-known firm, but when my husband, (a North Shields lad) said he could remember the time when they kept their handsome horses upstairs and the carriage downstairs, I was astonished. When you think of it, it was easier to lead a team of horses up a ramp than tow the hearses upstairs. Good thinking, I thought.
Jimmy Turnbull, the Managing Director was kind enough to give me a lot of information about his family business, of which he is very proud and rightly so.
In 1790, John Turnbull started business as a cabinet maker and undertaker on the quayside at North Shields. Following a fire, the business moved into the town. A photo dates from around 1873 when E. Turnbull & Son Ltd came into being.
The company were also coachbuilders and livery stable owners. The stable could accommodate 50 horses and carriages. In 1907, Turnbull’s brought the first motor car to North Shields – a Vauxhall. Naturally, there was a liveried chauffeur. The business expanded and the motor car replaced the horse. Turnbull’s had a growing fleet of vehicles, including, in 1949, a number of Rolls Royce limousines, about 28 in all, as a photograph taken in front of the Park Hotel shows.
Three centuries on from its founding, Turnbull’s is still a family firm, owned and run by John’s descendants.