Pennington Parish Funeral Bier

The Funeral Bier

Pennington Parish Wheeled Funeral Bier

The Pennington Parish wheeled funeral bier is 99 years old, originally purchased in 1919 to transport residents of the Parish on their last journey, it is a testament to its workmanship. It has been used twice within the last 10 years. It was beautifully restored recently by a local resident. Can anyone help me by providing me with any information about it. The archived Pennington Parish minutes has been very useful, but apart from contacting Gadsdons who built the Chassis, there is no information on who did the carpentry.

From Pennington Parish archived minutes:

J.H PARK Chairman 6 August 1919:
The chairman reported that he had accepted (subject to the approval the Parish Council) the wheeled bier which the inhabitants of the parish had subscribed to and purchased, for the use of the parish, to be held and maintained by the Parish Council.
A sum of money being the balance of the money collected for the above was also being handed over to go towards providing a suitable building for the Bier.
The Parish Council unanimously agreed to accept the gift and provide a suitable building.


Gadsdons Coach Builders

From Peter Gadsdon:
The Pennington funeral bier metal chassis is marked with the name Gadsdons, London.The firm was started in the early 1800s by Richard Gadsdon. He had served an apprenticeship as a coach plater, a coach plater is someone who makes metal parts for carriages, furniture and ships. He started the firm in the top floor of his brother’s Henrys silk dyeing business. Richard’s sons and grandsons carried on the business after their own apprenticeships as coach platers. By the 1900s the firm was mainly a wholesaler for horse carriage parts, motorised vehicle parts and charabanc parts.

I can only assume the bier was built locally in 1919 in Cumbria when it was presented to the Pennington Parish Council. Although the funeral bier was pushed by hand the parts of the chassis can be found in the 1930s Gadsdons Ltd catalogue. The parts were probably ordered by a local blacksmith to build the chassis for the Pennington bier and a local carpenter would have added the wooden parts or maybe the whole bier may have been built by a carriage maker.

The Gadsdons business closed in 1937 probably due to the coming of the motor cars being built enlarge numbers by firms such as Austin, Morris and the American owned Ford.

Barrow Archives

The Pennington Parish minutes are held at Barrow Archives. The photograph of the minutes opposite shows information on the Funeral Bier and the War Memorial