The making of an East London institution
Our founder George White opened our first funeral home in 1888 on Wood Street, Walthamstow. Twenty years later, he opened a second home in Hoe Street in 1908 which became the head office and family home for his son, Bert White. By this time, with over 40 horses and a fleet of carriages, Harold White was the largest funeral home in East London to specialise in traditional horse-drawn funerals. The horses were stabled in Walthamstow Village and grazed on Chestnuts field behind the Waltham Forest Town Hall. You can still find the George White Sports Ground at Billet Road in Walthamstow today, this piece of land was donated by our founder and another possible site where the horses once grazed.
Bert’s son, Harold White spent his childhood in the Hoe Street family home and began working in the business at the age of thirteen, learning to make coffins and assisting with the practical aspects of running a funeral home. He left to fight in the Second World War and then volunteered with the Red Cross for a couple of years before returning to the family business. 1952 was the year that George White was born. It was also the year that London was enveloped by the Great Smog for four days – a time when Harold would have to walk in front of the company hearses with a torch (during the day) so that the drivers could avoid hitting the kerb. Harold eventually took over the business in 1958, actively supported by his wife Rosina. He expanded the business, opening up our third funeral home in Old Church Road, Chingford.
Their son, George, also grew up in the Hoe Street family home and worked for Harold White’s from an early age. After taking the reins in 1979, he combined his natural creative flair and entrepreneurial spirit to help streamline the business. George continued to work alongside his mother Rosina and his then wife Susan, mother of Etta, Courtney & Rommalee, who contributed in all areas of the family business. He opened our Buckhurst Hill funeral home in 2019 before leaving Harold White’s to his daughters in 2021.
The business has previously been known by the names ‘George White’ and ‘George White & Sons’.