All about us

Henry Copeland came to Beckenham in 1862 aged 20 years from Sleaford, Lincolnshire. He obtained work as a carpenter and builder.

In July 1865, Henry married Eliza Proctor and they lived on Limes Road, Beckenham where their son, Tom Copeland, was born in 1869.

In 1874, Henry Copeland began his first business as builders and undertakers in Beckenham High Street. In 1885, the business relocated to The Pavement, Oakhill, known now as Bromley Road, where it remains to this day.

Tom Copeland married Fanny Freeman in Beckenham Methodist Church on 26th February 1895; Fanny was the daughter of a local Grocer.

Irene Copeland, daughter of Henry and Eliza, was born in Royston Villas on Bromley Road, and Robert, their son, was also born there.

Rob Copeland joined the family firm in 1920. After the death of his grandfather in 1921 he was taken into partnership with his father to carry on the family business.

In 1928, Rob Copeland married Joyce Eyden although they had no children.

After the death of his father, Tom, on the 26th May 1939, Rob Copeland carried on with family business throughout the years of the Second World War.

“Rob was a well respected business man and a pillar of the community. He wrote many books about Beckenham’s history and its local area.”

In 1887, Tom Copeland was involved with the building and finance of the local Methodist Church in Beckenham of which he and his family were members. Prior to the building of the church, the monthly meetings were held at the Copeland’s home in Beckenham High Street. All of the Copeland children were baptised in the church.

In the Beckenham Methodist Church Diamond Jubilee Celebrations magazine of October 1947 it listed members and their duties, Rob Copeland was Church Steward, Trustee, Trust Secretary, Class Leader, Cub Leader and ran the Young People Fellowship.

In 1970, Rob Copeland owned a stable which was next to the Methodist church, that year he donated the stables to the church so that they could lease to others and always have an income for the church. The property is now called the Church Motor Company and brings in good revenue to the church annually.

“Rob Copeland passed away in 1988 aged 85, known as an Undertaker and a man who never travelled far from Beckenham. Rob was also known as a local historian and photographer.”

Tony Brockhurst who worked with Rob Copeland, said he was a “Gentleman, an honourable and splendid boss”, he also said that Rob never officially retired; he was still active in the business up until his late 70’s.

At the age of 79, Rob Copeland took it upon himself to cycle to Brighton for the first time. Local Photographer Edward Southerby, who worked on many of Rob Copeland’s books with him, said of Rob Copeland, “He performed a service of inestimable value to the community of Beckenham past and present”.

In the Beckenham Methodist Church there are two plaques to commemorate both Tom and Rob Copeland.