21st century mortuary facilities

H. Porter & Sons

A major project to upgrade and expand mortuary facilities at H. Porter & Sons in Stourbridge, West Midlands, was formally opened in a special ceremony attended by SAIF 2nd Vice President Ross Hickton.

The work, commissioned last April by sixth-generation family member and company director Lucy Porter, also includes the creation of a new coffin workshop, floral tribute storage and team changing areas at the business, which marks its 180th anniversary this year.

The revamped facilities have seen a doubling in mortuary capacity and the installation of the latest clinical-standard equipment used in the care of the deceased in procedures such as embalming and make-up.

Another major feature of the project is a second floor purpose-built archive area, which is used to safely store company records – as well as ashes before their return to families.

This new floor also boasts an office space which, if another emergency like the Covid pandemic were to occur, would allow the business to divide staff into teams to minimise the risk of disruption to services. Commenting during the opening event, Ross Hickton said: “It’s fantastic to see independent funeral directors investing in their premises and facilities to ensure bereaved families receive the highest standards of care. This is something H. Porter & Sons has been doing for 180 years – the people of Stourbridge and surrounding areas are really lucky to be served by such a passionate local funeral director.

“The new mortuary upgrade is incredibly impressive. It shows what a brilliant ambassador H. Porter & Sons is for the SAIF family of independent funeral directors, whose values are all about delivering professional, personalised care to communities across the UK. I wish the business every success in the years ahead.”

Lucy added: “We wanted to create a space that truly meets the needs of modern families, representing the very best standards in funeral care. For instance, access to the mortuary is now via digital code, which only authorised team members possess. I also wanted to ensure the facilities work for our staff, which is why colleagues have played a key role in designing the layout and siting of equipment.

“We’re extremely proud of the end result and know that if any of our families wanted to view our facilities, we would have no hesitation in showing them around.”

Lucy had originally planned to start the project in the spring of 2020, however, it was delayed as a result of the pandemic. “The disruption was very frustrating but it enabled us to rethink the overall design and create something that has made us more resilient to future challenges as a business,” she said.

H. Porter & Sons marks its 180th anniversary of caring for bereaved people this year. The firm was established by Richard Porter, following the death of his father William in 1843. Richard, a carpenter, had already been making coffins for local families but set up the business in an effort to provide an income for his widowed mother and other members of the family.

H. Porter & Sons has been based in South Road since 1970 in offices that were originally a credit draper’s shop. Over the years, as more bereaved families have turned to the business for care and support, it has added a number of new buildings, including the former St Michael’s Church in 1984, which is now used as a garage for hearses and limousines but retains its period chapel appearance externally. The new mortuary facilities represent the latest development in the company’s evolution.

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