Founding of the British Undertakers’ Association (1905)
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.