Black Country funeral director honoured at museum

By Luke Bartlett | Dudley entertainment | Published:

Unless you're rich or famous the likelihood of an actor taking on your character is slim.

But for one Black Country funeral director that's exactly the case.

Arthur Walters, who ran A&A Walters funeral directors, has been recognised by the Black Country Living Museum for his work.

The Tipton man is being portrayed as a character at the museum as part of an on-going search for the real stories and real people of the Black Country.

Great-granddaughter Rachel Hodges said: "It is an honour to have one of my recent Ancestors recognised in such a way.

"I never knew Arthur as he died in 1945, aged 75, long before I was born.

"It feels great, I'm really proud, It's very exciting and I feel really proud because not only was a local businessman and also a philanthropist.

"He did a lot to help the poor in the community and to try keep costs of funerals lower.

"He accepted payments in rabbits and pheasants. His son was my grandfather and I remember him saying that people coming in with rabbit and pheasants to pay the last bit of a funeral payment."


Back in May the museum got in touch with the family to propose doing something with their history.

Learning team manager Pat York, responsible for researching and putting together the characters, came across the A&A Walters website which contained extensive history about the family.

The museum then got in touch with great-granddaughter Rachel and together they developed a character with an outfit, background notes and appropriate objects to be portrayed at the museum initially to school groups.

Dressed in full mourning attire appropriate for the period, which is all black, Nigel Westwood-Burgess is portraying Arthur Walter as a young man of the late Victorian and early Edwardian era.


His character carries mourning jewellery to portray how Victorians approached death and also period ‘memorial cards’ which were very popular in the Victorian era and handed out at funerals as keepsake.

Mr Westwood-Burgess, 31, learning assistant and activity demonstrator, said: "I was delighted to meet the descendant of Arthur Walters, the character who I’m currently playing.

"It was the first time Rachel saw me in costume, and the first time the character had been used for visitors, and I was pleasantly surprised by visitors’ interest.

"The school groups I was guiding that day had lots of questions to ask about him.

"I thoroughly enjoyed telling them history of such an interesting and charitable man, who was once a central pillar of his community.

"It’s a satisfying part of my job that I am able portray these characters and keep these stories alive, and tell the story of a Black Country family-run business that is still going from strength to strength 167 years on.”

The museum has put focus on characters that don’t currently have a specific building and which portray real lives and real stories of people who once lived in the Black Country.

Through this they are trying to tackle challenging subject areas, such as deaths and funerals.

Luke Bartlett

By Luke Bartlett
Trainee Reporter - @lbartlett_star

Trainee Express & Star reporter covering Dudley and Sandwell. Get in touch on 01902 319445 or via


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