Our History

Alex Willis Funeral Home was founded in 1881 by John Thomas Willis in a cottage on the present site of the Bradford Arms in Queen Street, Morecambe. Six years later, his brother, Joseph joined. They moved to larger premises in Clarence Street where they carried out their business of joinery, boat building, and undertaking.

Beginnings of Alex Willis

In 1895, the brothers moved once more to Poulton Square and continued their business until 1969. It was at Poulton Square where Alex Willis joined his father in the family business.
In 1932, J.T. Willis died and the firm passed to his son Alex, who was a prominent figure in the community. Additionally, he twice was President of the British Institute of Embalmers and President of the North West Area of the British Undertakers Association.
Alex Willis worked with the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade for most of his life. He rose from cadet to Superintendent of the Morecambe and Heysham Corps. At the time of his death in 1963, he was the senior holder in England of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.
In 1955 the business passed to Arthur Willis and Albert McVernon, Alex Willis’s son and son in law where they continued the family’s tradition until 1968 when Arthur retired.
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Present Alex Willis

It was then that the business moved to its present site at Hunters Lodge on Middleton Road in Heysham under Albert McVernon where a purpose-built funeral home was built. This incorporated private chapels, the main chapel, a mortuary, offices, and garages for their fleet of Jaguar limousines.
In 1971, after service with the Royal Marines, Stewart McVernon joined his father in the family firm, Albert retired in 1981 leaving Stewart to continue over 100 years of family tradition who was later joined by his two sons Jon and David in the 1990s.
Jon and David now have over 25 years of experience in the funeral industry and strive to keep to their family values.
Alex Willis Funeral Home is still expanding. Furthermore, it recently had a full refurbishment to provide the personal service to the community that has been its hallmark for over 140 years.
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