The Undertaker at Work – Brian Parsons new book

Thursday 25 September saw LAFD Executive Committee member Brian Parsons reveal his most recent book – The Undertaker at Work: 1900-1950 (as well as JH Kenyon – A Short History) at a launch hosted by JH Kenyon on Westbourne Grove, London.

Brian describes his book thusly –

Meticulously researched and containing the most comprehensive collection of photographs to be seen in a book on this topic, The Undertaker at Work is a fascinating 50-year look at the development of the funeral industry in Britain.

 Reflecting the rapidly changing social times of pre-, inter- and post-war Britain, the book details the introduction of embalming; how the enormous task of dealing with the dead from both World Wars was undertaken; coping with the tragedy that was the Spanish flu; and the rise of the Co-operative Funeral Service. Around these more institutional historical key-stones, the author has included fascinating episodes of important burials during the period: the moving story of the burial of the Unknown Soldier; the extraordinary ‘empty coffin’ of Lord Kitchener; and dealing with the greatest ever aviation tragedy involving the airship R101.

 The second half of the book is a collection of largely previously unseen photographs that detail this period. In it, the change in the mode of transport, premises and coffins is depicted along with advertising and other images that show the undertaker at work preparing for and at funerals. A small section also illustrates the work of a related occupation, the monumental mason.

It was a successful event by a prolific author which received some support from fellow members of the Executive Committee.  If you’d like to know more about the book or the author visit

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