Alfred Smith Funeral Directors

Alfred Crawford Smith

By Beverley Walker

The company was founded in 1881 by Alfred Crawford Smith, a hatbox maker of Southwark, who, after losing one of his children, decided he could better the services of other undertakers. By the time of his death in 1933, his Funeral Directors were the most renowned in South London. They were especially noted for their horses which were totally black Dutch-bred Friesians.

When all funerals were horse drawn, an average of forty stallions and geldings were stabled at the firm’s yard in Newington Crescent, Kennington.

Alfred and his wife Caroline had twenty-two children, six of which were sons, only two of whom survived him into the business, Alfred and Henry Smith. They expanded the business into Southwark at Southwark Bridge Road, Lambeth at Lambeth Walk and to Wrythe Lane, Carshalton. They in turn were followed by their sons Alfred, Henry and George.*

Photo:The first premises in Wrythe Lane with Alfred Smith watching from an upstairs window

The first premises in Wrythe Lane with Alfred Smith watching from an upstairs window

Alfred Smith Funeral Directors


St. Helier Estate


They opened their first premises at 101 Wrythe Lane in 1934 when the St. Helier Estate was still in the process of construction. They moved to their present location at 304 Wrythe Lane, Rosehill in 1939. This branch was initially run by Harry, son of Alfred junior and grandson of Alfred Crawford Smith, and then by Harry’s son, Tony, who retired from the business in 1996.

They opened branches in Streatham Vale in 1978 and in Carshalton Village in 1993.*

One of the most memorable funerals they undertook was that of Stanley Parish who died in a tragic accident in 1936.

Photo:Horsedrawn hearse

Horsedrawn hearse

Alfred Smith, Funeral Directors

Photo:The funeral of Corporal Derek Tony Wood killed by the IRA 19th March 1988. Tony Smith leading the cortege

The funeral of Corporal Derek Tony Wood killed by the IRA 19th March 1988. Tony Smith leading the cortege

Alfred Smith, Funeral Directors

*Alfred Smith Funeral Directors Publicity leaflet

Great dignity and great care

Roger Royle, curate at St. Peter's in the 1960s, remembers Smiths

This page was added by Beverley Walker on 25/06/2010.
Comments about this page

I was very pleased to see the role of the undertaker depicted on a social history site as this is so rarely done, despite it being a vital occupation.

By Janette Scarborough
On 08/08/2010

I remember the Alfred Smith Funeral establishment, in Rose Hill. Indeed they were very kind and respectful at the time of my own dear father 'passing'.

By William Dace
On 13/08/2010

I went to Garth school with Robin Smith the son from the Rosehill branch, he used to tell me scary stories about the undertaking busines.I now live in Brisbane Australia.

By Brian Warburton
On 04/02/2011

I enquired after Tony Smith in May this year (2011) here is the reply. Good morning Mr Crawley, Many thanks for your e-mail. I always find it interesting to hear about the company before I was here. I'm pleased to say we are still an independent company owned by the Smith family. The current owner is Gary (Harry's Son) and his wife. They have both taken a back seat now and I came in 3 years ago to run the company. Unfortunately Tony passed away 2 years ago, although Rita (Tony's Wife) still pops in to see us at Rose Hill. All the best. Regards, Andrew W Brown General Manager

By Ray Crawley
On 19/10/2011

I had the pleasure of working with Tony Smith.. Such a kind and caring gentleman.. A sad loss to our community..

By Jackie Weight
On 23/02/2012

My name is Roy Marsh.  I am adding a note to this page in respect of Mr A Smith, who was highly thought of on the estate. My father was killed at Wimbledon Station being a platelayer from the Royal Engineers. This was in Feb 1948 I was born in March and my  mum was left with two boys to bring up she said Mr Smith  took control of every thing as he was like a best friend, everyone felt this way!,, He walked the whole length of Rose hill in front of the hearse, the barrow boys who knew my mum stopped serving and stood in the road in respect as Mr A Smith passed by. They gave my mum a big collection from them all. l am sitting with a card given  from Mr A Smith 304 Wrythe lane Carshalton with my dads details etc he was just 32 yrs old. I am thrilled to know that they still continue to look after everyone on St. Helier as they did all of my family. I remember a  Mr Smith not sure who that was, coming about my Gran he would take time for a cup of tea and chat, he was kindness himself.

By Roy Marsh
On 05/03/2015

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