R. Banks & Son (Funerals) Ltd based in Ormskirk Road, Pemberton was founded in 1921 by Richard Banks. Until then Richard had been a taxi driver, but helped by his son Herbert he now combined the role of taxi driver with that of undertaker.
The earlier career of taxi services rather than undertaking was not in itself unusual – though to modern eyes its continuation as evidenced by the Banks’ headed notepaper of the 1940’s – ‘R. Banks Funeral Director – Weddings a specialty’ looks a little incongruous.
Clifford Halliwell joined the business in the early 1960’s as a part time driver and funeral worker. Herbert Banks asked Cliff if he would consider taking the job on a full time basis. Cliff agreed, and over the next few years gradually took on the role of funeral director himself.
Herbert banks eventually became ill and his doctors told him it might be a good idea to sell the business as the stresses and strains of the job could easily worsen his already deteriorating health.
As a result of Herbert Banks retirement Cliff Halliwell now bought the business from him and slowly developed what was then a very small enterprise into a significantly larger family business.
In 1974 Cliff’s son Brian joined him, bringing new ideas of his own. Instead of traditional old limousines new modern stretched vehicles were introduced. The business developed steadily, and in 1982 a new funeral home and head office was built in the centre of Pemberton and named Halliwell House.
Expansion was part of the plan, and in the late 1980’s the first branch office, Hallbank House, was opened at Bryn Cross, Ashton in Makerfield. The early 1990’s saw a second branch opened; Windsor House, Scholes.
In 1996, like Herbert Banks before him Clifford Halliwell himself retired due to ill health; his son Brian became Managing Director, helped by his mother, Cliff’s wife Elsie. Sadly Cliff Halliwell passes away on 28th September 1998. His funeral was attended by hundreds of people from all over the United Kingdom. The service was held at St Matthews Church, Highfield, Wigan where the Reverend Bill Harrington, the vicar of St Matthews, officiated at the service assisted by a dear friend of Cliff’s, Rector John Southern, who was vicar at St Johns Church, Pemberton – the parish which the firm had served for many years.
In 2000 a third branch was opened at Grove Lane, Standish and named Clifford House in memory of Cliff Halliwell.
The Managing Director of Edwards Funeral Directors based in Dicconson Terrace Wigan, Richard Edwards approached Brian Halliwell in 2002 to enquire if R. Banks & Son (Funerals) Ltd was interested in buying the Edwards business. Following detailed negotiations a purchase price was agreed and in November 2002 R. Banks & Son (Funerals) Ltd acquired the Edwards business, with Richard Edwards continuing as Manager.
Yet another expansion would come to fruition in 2004 when the former funeral home of John Monks & Son, respected funeral directors in Leigh, was acquired. Extensive alterations and upgrading were carried out. The premises in Railway Road were renamed Parsonage House after the local colliery which once employed so many people in the Leigh area.
April 2009 saw R. Banks & Son (Funerals) Ltd expand its empire further with the opening of a branch in Gidlow Lane, Beech Hill – Whitley House, named after the local area of Whitley, close to where the branch is situated.
October 2011 saw the opening of our branch based on Spendmore Lane in Coppull – Bentham house, so named after the street on which it is on the corner of. This was the company’s first venture into this area and is run alongside the branch based in Standish.
January 2012 saw yet another expansion of the business with the opening of another new branch based at Hall Green, Upholland – Stretton House. The name Stretton House was chosen in memory of the former owners of the property The Stretton family who were prominent business owners in the local area.
The final expansion, for the time being, was the opening of our latest funeral home, Elliot House, Tyldesley in January 2013 on Shuttle Street. The branch is named after General George Augustus Elliott most noted for his command of Gibraltar during the great siege of Gibraltar (1779-1783) and whom Elliott Street, Tyldesley is named.
Today the company is still run by Brian Halliwell MBIE Dip FD, along with his daughter Carina Halliwell Dip FD (company director); his mother Elsie is now retired.
Brian’s wife, Jennifer Halliwell MBIE who runs the personnel side of the business and is also a company director. His son Martin Halliwell runs a sister company called RBF services which is a transportation company.
The company secretary, Catherine Heaton, is an employee who began working with the firm as a Y.T.S at the tender age of 16 in the late 1980’s and has been with the company through every step of its expansions.
Today the firm is the largest independent funeral directors in the area. The company operates a fleet of Jaguar’s which includes the Jaguar hearse used on the Queen Mothers funeral, a Mercedes fleet, and a bespoke 1938 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith hearse which was formerly Winston Churchill’s official vehicle during the war years. We also have a monumental masonry department offering a large range of granite headstones from around the world and our own “Safe Haven” pre payment funeral plan which is regulated and administered by Funeral Planning Services .