By Stuart Luxton

The history of the company is some what clouded in the mists of time but my understanding of the roots are as follows. William Luxton was involved in many different trades, his credentials cover a Journeyman Mason to a Publican. I've been told that a Journeyman is the old word for a qualified apprentice so I assume that the company began with William. Now for the Publican bit - I found a photo in the local pub called the Lamb & Flag of the pub back in William's day. The sign hanging outside makes reference to the Luxton's Lamb & Flag so whether the family had something to do with the pub who knows, but being such a small town I am pretty sure that a few ciders were consumed by him and fellow workers here! The Lamb & Flag has been a meeting place for the Luxton family on many social events.

References to our company start at around 1855 and it is my belief that the firm became well established around the time of the Great Ottery Fire in 1866.

The fire raced up Tiphill and stopped at the family house Sandcliffe. Recently we renewed the entire roof removing all the old slates we discovered the burnt timbers still existing to this day some of which we have now preserved in our family museum of artefacts.

Many people find it odd that we are Funeral Directors as well as Builders but if you go across the borders to Wales you will find many such companies. However if you think about it, it makes sense that the carpenters were available to make coffins and this continued until the late 1980's. Times have changed now though and although coffins are still made in "wood", a hand crafted coffin is very costly compared to a factory produced equivalent.

Moving on, Frederick John Luxton (William's son) established the company as we know it today but obviously without all the new technology we have now! Frederick had many sons and daughters that can be referenced in our family tree. Frederick's sister married a Skinner and this is the roots of Skinners of Sidmouth. The two building companies worked as one to build Trow Hall before going their separate ways.

In the 1940's the company split once again with two of Frederick's sons. Walter took over the reins from his father, while his brother Fred went off to build massive estates in Poole, Dorset. I was in Poole some time ago and was really surprised to see a manhole cover with the inscription F.J. Luxton & Son, Ottery St Mary inscribed on it! This particular branch of Luxton's disappeared after Fred's death but the Ottery and Sidmouth branches continued to florish.

During the war, Fred Wood (son of Frances Luxton, another daughter of Frederick) ran both the Skinner and Luxton companies until our lads returned. After the war, Frank Luxton (Walter's son and my father) came back to work in Ottery and the company grew in size taking on many developments including a good part of West Hill and Ottery St Mary and also many individual properties and sites such as Eastfield and Eymore.

More senior members of our community may remember a slogan on our vans during the 50's and 60's "In a fix phone 46 if that won' t do try 362" This continued until the GPO started adding more and more digits to the front of the original number. Oh well I suppose that's progress.

Michael continued the good work in Ottery after father died in 1975 at only 55 years old, until he retired due to ill health in 1996.

He is now retired in Cornwall trying to train the Cornish the correct way to present scones with the cream on first of course.

At the same time of my fathers death another family member Terry Wood stepped into the position of Funeral Director until 1992 when he sadly was taken from us at another early age of just 58.

Currently the building side is now run by myself and that side of the firm is continuing to do well. Most of our building work is in and around Ottery, although we have just completed works in Exeter and as far as Dartmoor on some quality properties.

Sue my wife was involved with the funeral service's since before Terry's death stepping up to the position of funeral director after Mike retired in 1996.

The future .... well that is to be written yet, however if you live in properties built by us or employ this company to do work for you, we would always like to think that quality and good service is remembered long after.

  • William Luxton
  • Fred, Frederick John (FJ) and Walter Luxton
  • 21 Tip Hill, Ottery St Mary 1910
  • Frank Luxton
  • Nigel & Terry Wood
  • F J Luxton Lounge