Saving the people’s crem from the people’s undertaker

Charles Cowling

Things are at last hotting up in Burton upon Trent, where the local council and the borough council, joint owners of nearby Bretby crematorium, are considering a sell-out to Midlands Co-op for around £8 million.

Local undertakers are rubbing their hands with glee. The Co-op is the most gleeful, of course. Other fans of the move are Wellings Funeral Service, W Newton and Son, JH Grice Funeral Services, and Ward & Brewin Funeral Service. All these businesses… ah, you’ve guessed it. Yes, they all belong to Midlands Bloody Co-op.

There are just two genuinely independent FDs serving the good people of Burton and environs. They are S & L Murray and J Hylton & Sons. Hylton’s have started a petition against the sell-out; Sue Murray has written at sad and furious length to the local paper.

There has been no consultation with the public about the proposed sell-out, and it is difficult to discern a motive. There is a theory that the public sector couldn’t run a whelk stall, but Bretby crem is run by conspicuously nice, kind and helpful people – and it makes a profit. It seems to need no gigantic refurbishment. It is highly regarded.

And it belongs to the people, who haven’t been consulted.

If the Co-op succeeds in its bid, it will have a virtual monopoly on funeral services in Burton.

I very much hope that, even at this late stage, when the sale already begins to look like a done deal, the people of Burton will make enough noise to stop it.


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Paul Hensby
10 years ago

Midlands Co-operative Funeralcare invited me to their Litchfield HQ to discuss their presence on My Last Song. At the meeting they said they wanted me to take down articles which helped visitors reduce cost of the funeral…short meeting and waste of a day.

Kathryn Edwards
Kathryn Edwards
10 years ago

It’s not only the independent undertakers who should worry; independent celebrants may well feel a parallel concern. Some might, like me, feel moved to write to the local authority at

Town Hall
King Edward Place
Burton upon Trent
DE14 2EB

or possibly email them at

or use the other social media contact options they list on their website at

to voice enquiry and concern about this perplexing decision.