Edinburgh: William Purves celebrates 135 years – and more than 10,000 funerals

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The independent family-run funeral director, William Purves, marked its 135th anniversary in April.

Established in 1888 by a craftsman and cabinetmaker turned undertaker from the Borders, William Purves is today the largest independent funeral directors in Scotland, having recorded over 100,000 funerals since 1927.

The family-owned business has passed through five generations and comprises a team of more than 100 staff across 25 branches in Scotland and northeast England. They are part owners of crematoria and also own a stonemason in the Borders.

Several of these branches have been acquired by William Purves, trusted by the original owners to continue their legacy in supporting bereaved families. These include Wood & Hay in Haddington and a number of Borders based family-owned businesses.

The legacy brands, coupled with those opened in Peebles and St Andrews, have benefited from the subsequent investment, job creation and skills development.

Committed to delivering the highest levels of professionalism, compassion and a truly distinct service, William Purves has established a strong reputation for itself over the last 135 years.

The Scottish funeral director has been involved in many high-profile funeral services, including that of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and more recently of the firefighter Barry Martin who died in the Jenners department store fire earlier this year.

Tim Purves (pictured), chairman of William Purves and descendant to the founder, said: “I am proud to be celebrating William Purves’ 135th anniversary this month and to be continuing the legacy of our family-owned business.

“For 135 years, William Purves has been at the vanguard of funeral innovation, always rising to the challenges of the times. Including the rise in cremation services, the growing use of funeral tech, and most recently the hardship of the Covid-19 pandemic and cost-of-living crisis.

“It is a mark of the business’ success that we have modernised and adapted, while retaining the key values of compassion, integrity, dedication, and respect on which William Purves was built.

“Thank you to the many families who have placed your trust in William Purves, and for allowing us to continue the legacy that my great great grandfather started in 1888.”