This item is in the following Themes:

Death Industry & Manufacturing Commerce

Date: 28th October (circa 1960s)
Material: Paper


These expenses belonged to Cyril Salt, who joined Newman Brothers after the Second World War. We know that he moved from another coffin fittings manufacturer that had shut down.

Among the most important staff employed by Newman Brothers were the travelling salesmen, many of whom went on to be directors. Each travelling salesman had his own ‘patch’ where he would tour around the undertakers or, in rural districts, builders and carpenters, who doubled up as undertakers. The work was hard and meant being away from home for days or weeks at a time, travelling by train, motorcycle or car. Typically, they would spend the nights in commercial hotels, specifically catering for salesmen and other businessmen. We know the patches covered by specific salesmen because their expense claims survive in the Newman Brothers’ collection. One of ‘Dai’ Davies’ patches, not surprisingly given his name, was Wales and the Marches, while Arthur Allen often worked in Ireland. John Kellett, Newman Brothers’ director in the 50s and 60s, looked after London and especially the royal undertakers, J.H. Kenyon Ltd.

The job of the travelling salesmen involved keeping existing customers happy and, of course, finding new business. The key tool of the trade was the travelling salesman’s bag, full of catalogues and samples. We are fortunate that four of these bags were left at the factory, still with their contents inside.  The handles and other fittings are proudly mounted on presentation card, while the fabric samples of funerary gowns and coffin linings are displayed together in a similar manner to a carpet sample book. Before making a visit, cards would be posted out to prospective clients, advising that a travelling salesman would be visiting in the next few days.