The original company was started in 1868 by George Barlow in Henshaw St, Oldham near the town centre and market. George was a milliner, dress and mantle maker, tailor and coffin maker – a very busy man. As the business prospered, further premises were bought in Union Street West, where there was room for stables, carriages and a joiner’s shop. We became George Barlow and Sons.
Around 1908, Arthur, one of George’s sons, was the sole proprietor. He and his wife Hannah, sold the premises in the town and with their family moved to live at 17-19, Union Street West.
The advent of motor vehicles arrived and George Barlow and Sons progressed into the charabanc era. A purpose-built garage was built in 1922 to house the coaches, and Arthur’s three sons. William, George and Arthur, who were all by now working full time in the business.
In 1941 the name changed again. A limited company was formed with the directors being Arthur M Barlow, Hannah E Barlow, William M Barlow, George B Barlow and Arthur Barlow.
The last of the horses went in 1947, which must have been a relief to the staff. The horsekeeper had to be at the stables no later than 5.30am. Commiseration must go to the person who looked after Maggie, who was described as ‘subject to severe and serious complaints of the bowels…..must not have hay or dry provender’.
Arthur and Hannah died in the 1950s. Their sons now had their own homes, so it was decided to use part of the premises for the first chapel of rest in Oldham.
The next generation was coming up. In 1967, David Barlow became involved full time, having been around “for ages” helping out. By the 1980s David was in sole charge and a massive refurbishment took place. The old stables were demolished, the two houses gutted and in their place a further coach garage, mortuary, prep room, offices and a much larger and spacious chapel of rest were created.
David's daughter, Sarah Barlow has been working within the family business since 1991. In 2002, the opportunity arose to buy the long established Saddleworth funeral directors Pogson and Armitage Ltd as the previous owner was retiring.
Sarah now splits her time between the businesses in Oldham and Diggle, and customers are welcome to visit and use either of the offices or chapels of rest, as is convenient.