The Hessle family business began with John Rudston, a blacksmith of Hessle, who died in 1852. John was the son of William Rudston. John bought a property in Vicarage Lane and started a joinery shop, running both professions concurrently, but as motorised transport developed there was less blacksmith work, and joinery gradually developed into his primary business.
Directing funerals developed naturally for many joinery and carpentry businesses in those days. Coffins were made individually by hand, and timber was stored in sets on drying out boards at John Rudston's Vicarage Lane premises.
John married Elizabeth Cahill, and they had six children, the second-youngest, and only son, being Henry Robinson Rudston, who was born in 1846 and married Eliza Cobb. Henry took over the family business, and in 1865 it was known as 'H. R. Rudston and Sons'. Henry Robinson Rudston is the great grandfather of Gerald Rudston, and the great great grandfather of Mark Rudston who operates the business today.
Henry and Eliza had six children in total. The surviving three sons Charles Vincent, Horace and Percy, all shared the business after Henry's death in 1914. Charles lived in Vicarage Lane. He was choirmaster at the Methodist Church.
Horace was the only one to marry. He and his wife Hannah (nee Barker Clough) had three children, Constance, Dorothy and Gerald Percival. After the death of his father, Horace took on the business, helped by his eldest daughter, Contstance. Horace was a professional cricketer for Yorkshire until he died in 1962. Constance was a well-known and popular figure in Hessle because of her kind and generous nature. She was known as 'the lady in black' as she always dressed in black. She married but had no children.
Gerald Percival married Beatrice Millicent Thompson in 1937. They had four children (Gillian, Geraldine, Gerald Charles, and Anthony), but only the two sons survived to adulthood. Gerald Percival worked at Armstrongs, then Bentleys, prior to becoming a pilot in the Air Force. He tragically died in 1942, when Gerald was only three years old. Beatrice felt able to empathise with bereaved clients because she had experienced the dreadful loss of two children (Geraldine and Gillian), her husband and her only brother in a short space of time.
Beatrice's little family lived in Plane Street, Anlaby Road, Hull, and travelled to Hessle on the bus every Sunday to visit her late husband's parents. Her father-in-law used to walk to the Fiveways roundabout to meet them. They always took the route through Hessle cemetery to lay flowers on Gerald Percival's grave.
Constance took on the management of the business, later helped by Gerald Charles, who had trained to become a joiner via an apprenticeship. Gerald did his national service in the RAF, and married Marion (a qualified nurse) at All Saints' Church in Hessle, initially setting up home in two rooms at his mother's house in Plane Street, but later buying a house in Westfield Rise, Hessle. They had three children Mark Gerald, Claire Emma and Kate. Currently Marion and Mark are directors of the company, which is managed by Mark.
It was in September 1982 that Gerald and Marion moved to Dr, Fieldsend's old gabled house and surgery on Beverley Road, Hessle. They had decided they needed bigger premises which would incorporate proper rest rooms, this conversion into a chapel of rest was the first in Hessle.
Connie remained involved in the business right up to her death in 1999 at the age of 89.
Mark continues the family tradition of efficient, respect for the deceased and care of the bereaved family. He is proud to be part of the family business which has continued for over 150 years, and hopes to carry on providing this service to the people of Hessle.
Times have changed sine 1864 where a horse and cart were used. What remains from the early origins of the business is a dedication and level of personal service that underpins the important service Rudstons provide for the communities of Hessle and surrounding areas.