Miranda Jessop steps back in time with historian Brian Parsons as she hears about TH Sanders & Higgs’ fascinating past.
It is true to say that TH Sanders & Higgs has a rich history of looking after generations of Twickenham families in their time of need and Arthur George Higgs is the man who can be credited with founding the original business more than a hundred years ago.
Born in 1873, Arthur first began working as an apprentice to William Passenger who ran an undertaking business near Twickenham Green. When the Second Boer War broke out in South Africa in 1899, Arthur volunteered for service and, on returning from the war, he set up in business as an undertaker in Briar Road, Twickenham.
Trading as AG Higgs, he also became a Special Constable for which he received a long service medal. At the same time, Arthur was involved with many social and charitable institutions such as the Twickenham Philanthropic Society and the Loyal Orleans Lodge of Oddfellows as well as being a Life Governor of St John’s Hospital on Amyand Park Road.
When Arthur died in 1934, his obituary in the Richmond and Twickenham Times noted ‘Of all these organisations he was a willing supporter, but greater still was the help he gave unostentatiously at all times to those in need of a helping hand.’ From this same newspaper cutting, we also learn that Arthur was honoured with a fitting memorial at his own funeral which took place at Twickenham Cemetery with an aeroplane circling overhead and dipping in salute. After the mourners had left the grave, the plane returned to drop three little rosebuds that bore the inscriptions ‘Dad. Quis separabit?’, meaning ‘Who can separate us?’ The pilot was thought to be Arthur’s son, Ernest who was a professional boxer and a film actor.
Arthur was survived by his wife Fanny (who died in December 1945), three daughters (Mabel, Elsie and Gladys) and three sons (Ernest, Bertie and Arthur). Bertie took over his father’s business which became known as BG Higgs and it was at this time that the company moved to its current premises in Heath Road. Bertie continued to trade successfully for over thirty years until the business was sold in 1963 to the established Richmond firm of TH Sanders & Sons and becoming known thereafter as TH Sanders & Higgs. Both companies are now a part of Dignity, a nationwide organisation with a portfolio of prestige funeral businesses.
Brian, who has worked in the funeral directing business all his life, tells me that from the time when Arthur first started the business right up to the present day, the ethos has always remained the same. “Whatever the period in history, people are still bereaved and need to be looked after and we are proud to have served generations of Twickenham families. In the early days, most people would have died at home so Arthur would have gone round and measured the deceased, constructed the coffin and taken it round to the house where the deceased would have stayed until the time of the funeral. Today, we bring people into our care and families come and visit them in our Chapel of Rest.”
From the moment a family first makes contact, the experienced team at TH Sanders & Higgs are on hand to guide them every step of the way. Arranging a funeral for a loved one can often seem like a daunting task but TH Sanders & Higgs are there to help and advise twenty-four hours a day and every day of the year.
TH Sanders & Higgs Funeral Directors
153, Heath Road
020 8892 2611