Gibson's of Howden-le-Wear
In 1795, Robert and Pheobe Gibson – Tenant farmers of Burnley Row, Hamsterley/Bedburn, had a son, Joseph Gibson. One of six sons and two daughters, Joseph continued farming at Burnley Row Farm on the Hoppyland Estate but it would appear that the farm was unable to sustain such a large family so, in the 1850’s he decided to become a carpenter and looked towards the rapidly expanding mining village of Howden-le-Wear to establish a living. He became an accomplished joiner, carpenter, cabinet maker, Cartwright and undertaker. He was also one of three official enumerators for the 1851 census of North Bedburn Parish Council.
One of his sons, William Forrest Gibson, was apprenticed at Staindrop as a carpenter and joiner. After serving his time, his employer refused to pay the full rate, whereupon he packed his tools and carried them to Hexham where he found employment in building the Queens Hall. Upon it’s completion, he moved on to Gateshead and was employed in the building of the North Eastern Railway Offices. A side-line was making pick axe handles for the miners. After that, in 1872, he returned to Howden-le-Wear and continued his father’s business. In old age and increasing infirmity, the business was passed on to his son Joseph Gibson (about 1916). He was a keen sportsman, being a member of the local football club and a runner, elected local councillor on Crook and Willington urban council and parish council, and was appointed J.P. magistrate on the bench at Bishop Auckland. Following his unexpected death after a minor operation, his son, William (Bill) Gibson took over the business in 1947. Upon retirement in 1974, his son, Mark Gibson continued the business, now managing Gibson’s Funeral Services Ltd. from Bishop Auckland, whilst retaining the original premises at Howden-le-Wear and an office in Shildon.
In 2002, Mark’s son, Matthew Joe Gibson, was welcomed into the family firm Followed by Mark’s daughter Victoria Gibson in 2010, taking the business into the sixth generation. Victoria manages the administration from the head office in Bishop Auckland, also promoting and arranging Pre Paid funeral plans in conjunction with Golden Charter, for which Gibson’s Funeral Services have been awarded in 2009 the National and Regional Winner and in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015 Regional Winner for the North of England, the prestigious funeral planner of the Year Award.