A Nottinghamshire funeral firm whose forerunner was mentioned in one of author DH Lawrence’s most famous novels has marked its 150-year anniversary.
Staff celebrated the milestone with a glass of bubbly and by cutting a cake when they got together for a commemoration event last week.
Gillotts Funeral Directors, which runs four branches in Nottinghamshire as well as another office in Heanor, began life as the Star Livery Stables in Victoria Street, Eastwood, in 1867.
The stables were opened by a local businessman called William Leivers, whose business card described him as a ‘general carrier and cab proprietor’ who ran a service taking townsfolk to Nottingham and back every day.
The Star Livery Stables also rented out horses and carriages, including dog carts and waggonettes, for pleasure trips, weddings and funerals, while it also sold paraffin and, later on, recharged people’s batteries.
The stables were established next door to the birthplace of DH Lawrence, who gave the business a namecheck in his 1928 novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover, mentioning how ‘Mrs Bolton drove up in Leiver’s Cab to Wragby’ in Chapter Seven.
Over the years the company progressed from supplying horses and carriages to supplying motorised vehicles, but in the 1970s it changed from loaning out hearses for funerals to looking after all of the arrangements as well, changing its name to the Eastwood and District Funeral Service.
In 1983 the company moved from Victoria Street to Nottingham Road under the ownership of Barry and Elaine Hutsby – who is a descendant of William Leivers.
The company, which employs 14 people, changed its name to Gillotts Funeral Directors, the name of its Heanor office, two years ago to reflect its origins as a family business.
Barry and Elaine’s daughter, Joanne, who is one of four partners in the family-run business, said: “Last Friday’s event presented us with a wonderful opportunity to reflect on how our company is very much a part of Eastwood’s history, even to the extent that our founder’s name was immortalised by DH Lawrence.
“It’s fascinating to think about how the changes in the company reflect how life in the town has changed alongside it, and in many ways the story has come full circle, because we are currently experiencing a real increase in demand for horse-drawn hearses, which is gives us a direct reminder of the early days of William Leivers and Star Livery Stables 150 years ago.”
As well as its Eastwood and Heanor offices, Gillotts operates funeral homes in Main Street, Kimberley, Derby Road, Stapleford and Nottingham Road, Selston.