Found­ing of the Bri­tish Un­der­tak­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion (1905)

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The growth of un­der­tak­ing led to nu­mer­ous chal­lenges in­clud­ing con­cerns about in­ad­e­quate death cer­tifi­cates, pre­ma­ture burial and pres­sure for fu­neral re­forms. It be­came ap­par­ent that un­der­tak­ers could bett­ter pro­tect their in­ter­ests if theyy joined to­gether in a trade as­so­ci­a­tion. At­tempts were made in 1870 and 1890 to es­tab­lish such a group but they failed.

In about 1894, a group of Lon­don un­der­tak­ers col­lab­o­rated to de­fend 12 mem­bers in the trade against a charge of li­bel made by a coro­ner’s of­fi­cer. Four years later, the Bri­tish In­sti­tute of Un­der­tak­ers ( BIU) was founded. One of the found­ing mem­bers was Maryle­bone un­der­taker Henry Sherry. He was con­vinced the fu­ture lay in fol­low­ing the lead of Amer­i­can un­der­tak­ers’ or­gan­i­sa­tions to “or­gan­ise, ed­u­cate, leg­is­late” and to ad­vo­cate san­i­tary prac­tices. The de­vel­op­ment of em­balm­ing in the UUS led to new op­por­tu­ni­ties forr un­der­tak­ers. The Bri­tish Em­balmers’ So­ci­ety ( BES) wwas founded in 1900. Its mem­bers could ac­quire tech­ni­cal skills, be­gin­ning the process of rais­ing un­der­tak­ing from a trade to a pro­fes­sion.

Al­though branch as­so­ci­a­tions of the BIU had been formed, the group it­self stag­nated. In 1905, it re­formed as the Bri­tish Un­der­tak­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion ( BUA) with Henry Sherry as Chair­man.

The BUA was re­named the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Fu­neral Di­rec­tors in 1935. To­day, it is the largest trade as­so­ci­a­tion for the fu­neral sec­tor.

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