Quality, Commitment &
Founded in 1936, J C Atkinson and Sons has grown through three generations of family ownership to become the leading independent manufacturer and distributor of coffins, caskets and other related products to the UK funeral market.
The business now employs 150 staff across three UK locations, with the company’s products having an outstanding reputation for quality.
J C Atkinson offers the UK’s most extensive range of products on the market. Whether they are traditional, modern, personalised or environmentally sustainable coffins, they are delivered on short lead times across the country and with a high-quality customer service.
Just to let you know how elegant the Walnut Tree Oval coffin looked this morning - it caught everyone's eye, plenty of comments and none of the pallbearers had seen one like it. It really did look smart. The book for the name details is beautiful, really impressive.
Massive thank you to you & your team for this coffin, we along with the Humanist celebrant, crematorium staff, family and friends thought it was absolutely brilliant, on route to the crematorium there were people on the street taking photos of the coffin and EVERYONE had a big stupid smile on their face.
We set up our office in 2014 as Deys family funeral care and needed a coffin supplier. We didn’t really know a lot about products available, but after meeting with JC Atkinson, everything was much easier.
We have been a client of JC Atkinson & Son for a number of years. During our time working alongside each other they have been on hand to deliver consistent and strong levels of customer service to all members of our team.
A Brief History
In the 1930s
John Clifford Atkinson establishes J C Atkinson and Sons
The business is set up in Penshaw to supply local undertakers with coffin sets, a kind of flatpack that is then assembled by the undertakers who doubled up as joiners. Johns main clients are colliery co-ops, established to benefit their customers.
Coffins are made from solid wood such as pine, elm, English oak and mahogany. The timber is transported by rail from the docks in Sunderland to the rear of the factory using the coal board lines and rolling stock (pre-privatisation).
In the 1960s
J C Atkinson and Sons Started to produce ready made coffins
Production capabilities change with coffins being made in their entirety. Finished coffins are constructed from all types of solid wood.
During the 1960s Alan Atkinson joins the company after leaving the services, he eventually becomes Managing Director when John Clifford Atkinson retires.
In the 1990s
J C Atkinson gains Forest Stewardship Council® certification
Implementing a robust environmental strategy, J C Atkinson works to ensure all its coffins were certified, or only used wood from a known and ethical source. It stops the use of unregulated rain forest mahogany type timbers from its production.
A new production facility is opened in Washington, Tyne and Wear.
Julian Atkinson takes over when his father Alan Atkinson retires
A ‘pragmatic green’ he does what he can to reduce the businesses’ environmental footprint and is recognised for taking this energy intensive manufacturing business, and deeply traditional funeral industry, to a place that is better serving the needs of the public and environment.
In the early 2000s
A Larger purpose built factory is constructed incorporating many environmental features
J C Atkinson moved its current location Sedling Road. The new factory includes:
Moves to water based lacquers cutting the VOC footprint by 77%
J C Atkinson brings alternative products to the UK Market
J C Atkinson starts to offer coffins it does not manufacture (including Willow, Seagrass and American Caskets) to cater for growing diversity and alternative funerals.
In the late 2000s
J C Atkinson pioneers Reflections
Reflections launches as the only picture coffin available to trade on the market, with coffins wrapped in biodegradable printed paper designed to the clients specification
Wins regional and national awards for its environmental best practice
Tree Tribute and Carbon Rebalance initiatives are launched
J C Atkinson plants a tree for every Country Range coffin it makes or sells, planting to date 10,000 trees and donates £10 to Groundwork UK to help families with fuel poverty, using their Green Doctor initiative.
Voted overall winner 2008
The company wins The Sunday Times ‘Best Green Company’ award for 2008 and becomes a Carbon Trust Standard Bearer for reducing its Co2 emissions year on year.
In the early 2010s
Greener Goodbyes is brought to market
Greener Goodbyes is developed with Forester. A unique and new service to offset the Carbon Footprint of a Funeral and offer green options in one plan.
Achieves virtually zero manufacturing waste on site as all offcuts are used for fuel in the Biomass boiler.
Awarded ‘Best Creative Business’
J C Atkinson enters the renewable energy market having become an official supplier of biomass pellets to other businesses. The win ‘Best Creative Business’ for their inovation and pioneering efforts at the North-East business awards.
In the mid 2010s
Product lines are grouped into the new ranges
Marketing of coffins re organised and re branded to better explain their values. Traditional coffins become Heartwood range. Alternative materials form the Country Range and caskets become Guardian.
JC Atkinson expands its marketing and sales department in order serve the majority of the UK.
J C Atkinson launches Forever Urns
A new and modern range of ash caskets and keepsakes launched to aid those who wanted to better cater for their ashes after a cremation.
In the late 2010s
Becomes a Good Funeral Winner
J C Atkinson rolls out training to help funeral arrangers understand the coffin choices. The win an award at the Good Funeral Awards for the supplier doing the most to move the funeral business forward – which has been slow to embrace greener options.
Greener Goodbyes updated to reach wider audience
Greener Goodbyes is updated as a web based application that covers a much broader spectrum of funeral arrangements, making it even easier to offset the associated carbon footprint.
In the early 2020s
Working with Climate Action North
J C Atkinson pulls together all plastic free products across its product ranges to help customers make informed choices to go plastic free.
Greg Cranfield appointed Managing Director
J C Atkinson becomes part of the Newable Group
J C Atkinson benefits from Newable’s 40 years of experience helping UK businesses to thrive. Newable provide an unrivalled platform of products and services in three key areas: Money, Advice and Workspace.
Policies In Action
The company has been at the forefront of the green growth in the industry, implementing sustainable energy features to minimise its environment impact and develop more environmentally friendly products.
The business was first to gain certification Forest Stewardship Council® for its use of green sources of raw materials and they have picked up several awards along the way, among them The Sunday Times Best Green Company Award and a special Good Funeral Guide award.
A Bright Future
In 2020, J.C Atkinson & Son (JCA) was delighted to announce a strategic investment by Newable Capital, which would enable long term sustainable growth. Newable Capital is part of Newable, a leading provider of money, advice, and space to UK SMEs.
This long-term investment by Newable Capital will enable the business to consolidate its leading position in the market, deliver increased capacity of a broader range of products from its existing factories to its long-standing client relationships.