Craftsmanship, heritage and tradition are our watchwords
Brent and James Stevenson, the fifth and sixth generations of Blackburn & Blackpool based Brent Stevenson Memorials are this year celebrating 126 years of their family business. The passion which has paid the Stevenson family’s way since 1883 has seen the family visiting cemeteries while on holiday in America, Germany and Portugal, to study the handiwork of foreign peers.
Now after more than a century the business, which has been continuously passed on from father to son, has never been more popular.
In 1979 Brent, began running the business after studying accountancy at university.
Now his son James, aged 18, is following in his footsteps. James’s great-great-great grandfather Thomas Stevenson established the business in Burnley in 1883.
Thomas passed it to son Fred in 1904, then his son Harold took over in 1926.
Brent’s father Arthur joined the business in 1934 and Brent took over from him in 1979. Sadly, all former owners of the business, apart from Brent’s father, died at a young age from inhaling the dust created from carving the York stone.
It is believed the Stevenson family have fixed more memorials in Lancashire over the last 120 years than any other family business.
Brent said: “We are sympathetic and it may sound strange but sometimes we can have a right laugh with people too.
“More often than not we have a laugh because a memorial is remembering a life. It’s not just commemorating the end of life. We have gone on holiday as a family and visited cemeteries to look at different ideas. It is very interesting.”
And James, who attended Ivy Bank High School in Burnley and now lives at the business premises in Cherry Tree, said: “It’s a good trade. I always knew I would go into the business. There are plenty of new skills to learn. It’s unique.”
Father & Son in business together
Brent, who lives on Waddington Road, Clitheroe, said that trends in personalising memorial stones were becoming more popular.
He said that two families in the past month had chosen to have Blackburn Rovers badges on their loved ones’ headstones.
Other emblems which have been chosen to adorn the granite include the Lancashire Rose, a Bentley car, a JCB digger, scenes of Pendle Hill and favourite pets.
And some families have even requested family “catchphrases” and in-jokes to be inscribed on the headstone.
Brent said: “It is becoming more and more popular to personalise memorials.
Today they are composed on computer so all the family get to see it and any changes can be made before it is too late.”
And the masons are also having to deal with modern day problems such as vandalism.
Brent is now fixing memorial stones with a bolt and heavy duty anchor so that it would take at least two 14 stone men to push them over.