Phone: (01752) 338311 Trade calls only
F.E. Harris was established in Plymouth in 1920 by Frederick Edgar Harris as a firm selling Builders Hardware, with a side line in Coffin Furniture, covering Devon and Cornwall. Shortly after setting up Mr. Harris was joined by Reg Turpin who worked for the business for 53 years, retiring in 1973 as Managing Director. At the beginning the firm occupied premises in Victoria Street, a part of Plymouth which is now the site of the University. By the mid 1930’s as sales expanded, ready-made coffins sets of English Elm, Chestnut, Native and Japanese Oak were added to sales lines and in 1936 a very limited production of ready-made coffins was started. On the night of 20/21 March 1941 the Victoria Street premises were badly damaged by bombs during the blitz of Plymouth but the business continued although two thirds of the floor area no longer existed.
Mr Harris died in 1946 the firm was incorporated and became F.E Harris Ltd, moving to much larger premises in the Cattedown area of Plymouth where coffin production was increased to 100 per week. In 1951Lloyd Turpin, Reg’s son started with the Company and was initially responsible for the administration and buying. In 1966 following a major re-vamp of the premises saw the introduction of veneered coffin production which entailed a complete change in methods of working and finishing. In 1967 the Company leased a wood-working mill and commenced the production of solid coffin sets with many different species such as Obeche, Agba, Japanese Sen, African Walnut and Mahogany being utilised. This resulted in a huge increase in the size of the business and in 1970 it moved to a purpose-built factory on the Newnham Estate in Plymouth where in 1971 veneered coffin set production was started and the machining of coffin moulding was made possible with the purchase of a Robinson 7” x 3” 6 cutter. In 1973 Reg Turpin retired with Lloyd becoming the M.D.
In 1979 Charles Cleghorn joined the Company from Ingall, Parsons, Clive & Co., the leading funeral supply organisation at the time. With further substantial increase in sales a larger manufacturing area was necessary entailing a move to a new 30,000sq.ft, factory on the Marshall Road Estate in Plympton, this established a significant manufacturing base and saw the Company enlarging its area of influence to the whole of the South of England. By the mid 1980’s to fully utilize its capabilities the Company moved into shop-fitting and merchanting display with contracts from the Burton Group, Dorothy Perkins, GAP, House of Fraser E.T.C., with staff members peaking at 65. By 1989 Lloyd was seeking to take things easier and it was decided to form the shop-fitting into a separate business and sell it off. The reduced size business moved into its current 20,000sq.ft, unit on the Langage Estate, Plympton in 1990. Charles Cleghorn was made Managing Director with Lloyd Turpin taking semi-retirement as Company Chairman.
By 2003/4, with Charles approaching retirement the continuity of the business and the safeguard of the employees jobs (many of whom had over 30 years service) became of pressing importance and it was decided to seek a buyer for the Company. An approach was made by Mr. Jukes of Jukes Holdings and after talks an agreement was made and the sale of the Company took place on the 31st January, 2005.
The Company is now part of the Jukes Family of Companies and investment in new plant and equipment is taking place in order to modernise the manufacturing processes which ensures our customers receive the benefits from our policy of continuous investment enabling all U.K. ranges are available throughout Devon and Cornwall. The Company continues to operate from its factory in Eastleigh in Hampshire to maintain the smooth, reliable service we have built up in that area.